Things I know at 42 I wish I knew at 22

20 Things I know now at 42 that I wish I knew at 22!

By: Ben Fogel

Over the last 20 years being in the health and fitness industry I feel pretty good about sharing these 20 health and wellness principles I have learned.  This is by no means an exhaustive list, but more of a snapshot of what I feel are some of the “biggest bang for your buck” principles you can start with TODAY to make amazing improvements in your life and overall health.  

(There I am, at the ripe young age of 20 – Back when I thought I knew EVERYTHING!!)

In no particular order, here are the 20 things I know now that I wish I knew 20 years ago:

  1. Use strength workouts to increase and gain muscle mass, diet to burn fat and cardio to improve overall health and longevity. 

  2. Eat a high protein diet (between .75 – 1g/lb BW) along with whole foods (think veggies with a side of protein) for body composition and overall better health. 

  3. Drink at least one glass of water before coffee upon waking. 

  4. Delay drinking coffee 1-2 hours upon waking.  This can lead to more sustained energy in the afternoon.  

  5. Sleep at the same time every day. 

  6. Use the 3-2-1 method for better sleep.  No eating 3 hours before bed, stop all work related activities 2 hours before bed, No screens for 1 hour before bed.  

  7. Memory is fallible. When you have a great idea, write it down.  Your mind is meant for thinking, not remembering. 

  8. Your best ideas usually come when taking a walk, working out, or in the shower.  Have a notepad ready! 

  9. Take complete ownership for every result in your life. The only constant in every result is you.  

  10. Who you choose as a partner will determine your level of peace, wealth and happiness.  Choose wisely. 

  11. You will never be as young as you are now.  Do what you feel you are meant to do, and stop waiting for the perfect time to start.  START NOW!

  12. Some of your best decisions come from stillness. Stillness is amplified in nature and meditation.  

  13. You can only get stronger when you face your problems in life.  Embrace the struggle.  

  14. Show up, do the work and seek ways to grow daily.  Do this every day and see the compounding effect that occurs.  

  15. True wealth is about being physically and financially healthy while living in a household full of love. 

  16. Make exercise a part of your life. Why would you not want more energy, better mood, increased healthspan matching an increased lifespan, a healthy brain and more confidence? 

  17. The “Compounding Interest” habits that have nothing to do with money:

    1. Lifting weights is compounding interest for muscle

    2. Meditation is compounding interest for mindfulness

    3. Cardio is compounding interest for heart & brain health

    4. Nutrition and sleep is compounding interest for mood and energy

Doing all of these is compounding interest for living a higher quality of life.

  1. Eat real food. I used to like to use the line “eat like an adult” but even high functioning, intelligent adults still eat like children.  If it is in a box, bag or has an ingredient you cannot pronounce, it most likely was not meant to be digested in your body.

  2. The four horsemen of addiction are: Alcohol, sugar, caffeine, and screens.  Limit these as much as you can.  

  3. Most of the time when you think you are hungry, you are either bored or dehydrated.  Drink a glass of water and get off your phone before reaching for those sugary snacks.  

I hope you found this list useful, and maybe focus on ONE area you can really focus on to see amazing results!

If you are looking for a perfect kickstart for the New Year, we have such a great program that you can check out below.  And if you take action now, you can train for the rest of 2022 for FREE!

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Overcoming Stress During the Holidays

It is already the second week of November, and I bet you can already feel the seasons  changing and winter is about to be in full swing!  With that said, we only have 7 Monday’s left in 2022 and so many holiday celebrations crammed in such a short period of time!

How do you keep your sanity during it all?  With family commitments, work parties, and overly busy schedules to get ready for it all we want to help you simplify these next 7 weeks so you can keep your sanity and stay happy (and healthy) over the holidays!

Here are 3 quick tips to own the overcome stress during the holidays.

1.)  Schedule “Me” time!

 Yes, you heard that right! What would benefit you the most during the busiest time of year is to schedule “Me” time.

The best way to do this is to pull out your calendar (I prefer one I can write on, the old fashioned way!) and mark on your calendar every commitment you already know about – every party, event, meeting, etc. that are non-negotiable and that you can’t miss. Once you have those all scheduled, now schedule your “Me” time.  Now is not the time to skip workouts or just say “I am too busy and I am going to take the week off.”

Instead, schedule this very important time just like you would a doctor’s or dentist appointment.  Place it in your calendar and make sure you hold yourself accountable to it by either letting people know that are close to you (like your family) that you have appointments with yourself on these days and times.  Or even better, stay accountable to your coaches here at Epic Fitness by scheduling your coaching appointments ahead of time and sticking to your plan.

2.)  Prioritize your day with the ONE thing that is non-negotiable to get done each day.

After diving into a ton of time-management books and the like, the biggest aha I got was after reading “The One Thing” by Gary Keller.  It was this little gem:

Time is the most valuable non-renewable resource that we all have the exact same amount of.  It is the way in which we use it that becomes the issue. 

What Keller recommends (and what I find super fascinating) is actually making a “to-do” list with just ONE thing on the list.  Yep, you heard me right – ONE THING!  This leads to what they call in the book the “focusing question”, which is:

 “What’s the ONE Thing I can do such by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

This reflects back another important concept known as the Pareto Principle.  20% of your effort will produce 80% of your results.  So, instead of having a never ending to-do list that will leave you even more stressed at the end of the day when you don’t even have half of the items complete, find that ONE thing and focus intently on getting it done each day.

Whether it is a project at work, some cleaning you have been putting off at home, or anything in-between, the power of the ONE thing is real!  You will feel so accomplished, and that will allow you to stack wins each day on top of each other.

3.)  Say “No” more than you say “Yes”

As I just wrote that, I know this may be wildly unpopular.  I have been a “yes” man most all of my life, until I realized that respectfully saying “no” gave me freedom that I never thought I had the ability to have.

You will be asked by many people if you can do many, many things over the holidays.  This is where you should be hyper aware of the amount of commitments you are making (schedule them ahead of time – see above!) and how it actually affects your life and your stress levels, especially during the holidays.

We have all been there – you just double booked yourself for that holiday party – and you need to go to both events!  Isn’t that one of the worst feelings?  Showing up for a half hour only to leave almost as quickly as you came.  Gracefully saying “No” can be hard, especially if you have said yes in the past to similar things.  But it also helps you avoid this awkward feeling.  It also give you that precious resource of time back so you can do the more important things.

One of the best ways to get your sanity back during the holidays is to not be afraid to say “No.”  Don’t even think that you have to give a reason why, it is ok to just say “thank you so much for the invite, but I will be unable to make it.”

One of the worst ways to respond is to say, “I will try to make it.”  The word “try” presupposes the likelihood of failure by about 110%!  Honestly, say it in any sentence and put yourself in the shoes of the receiver.  “I will TRY to make it to your party.”  Or, “I will try to pick you up from the airport.”  How would that make you feel if you were stuck at the airport and that is the line your friend pulled on you!  As Yoda famously said (make sure you recite this with the accent!):

“Do or do not.  There is no try.”

 I know this habit will be a tough one, but once you start to say “No” to the little things, you will see the amount of freedom and time it brings back into your life!

Most importantly, enjoy this holiday season with your friends, family and the people that mean the most to you and that lift you up!

Ready to own the holiday hustle and schedule more time for YOU?!  Click below to start our new 14 Day Epic Experience to help give you the kickstart you are looking for.

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Magic of Public Commitment

Part 1 – The Magic of Public Commitment

I have been doing a lot of reading, thinking and learning recently, and the most common theme that comes up when the talk is about reaching a particular goal or outcome is this:

When you commit yourself to putting the work in on a particular goal, and when you make that commitment public, you are going to be much more likely to reach the outcome you are looking to reach.  

I want to give an example.  There was a study performed where they looked at two groups that used the “MyFitnessPal” calorie and food tracking app. Group one used the app and tracked their daily nutrition and had targeted calorie goals.  Group two did all the same tracking with one minor difference:

Group two shared their calorie goal and weekly data with a friend or family member and let them know about their commitment to their goal.  

The outcome? Group two had a 50% increase in reaching their goals from literally just doing that one extra part – sharing their commitment to their desired outcome to someone – having another person that they knew they were going to report back to changed their outcome dramatically.  

What can we learn from this?  Well, a lot, in fact!  

We are connected social animals.  The more connection we have with people, the better we ultimately perform.  Think of another scenario – let’s say you have a goal to lose “X” number of pounds in “Y” months.  What do you think would happen to your mindset if you shared this goal publicly on social media?  

What do you think would happen to your “commitment” muscle?  Do you think it would grow a little bit, because you just told your world that you were committing to this thing, and don’t you feel you would have a higher likelihood of achieving said goal?  

Can you think of an area of your life where committing publicly to something and how taking this small, but powerful extra step would help you reach your goals faster?  I bet you can.  

But what if you are shy, and you don’t want to share a personal goal publicly?  That’s totally ok!  This is where you find a very close friend or family member and ask for their help.  Here is an example where you can ask your spouse for help if you had a weight loss goal:

“Hi, honey. I have this goal that between Halloween and New Years I want to stay committed to maintaining my current body weight, and continue to work out 3x/week.  I know this will be hard, since the average American gains between 8-15 pounds during the last 2 months of the year. Can I share with you my weekly weigh-in numbers, and can you continue to help with the kids on those mornings that I like to go to the gym?”  

The first step is just asking.  This is a great way also to connect with your spouse in a way that keeps you both supporting each other.  You can also ask them “What would you like to commit to and have me help hold you accountable to?”  

This works best with a new goal or habit change, because you know you are staying accountable to another human – especially another human you have a close connection with.  

Key Takeaways

Public Commitment will only work when you follow through and stay consistent to do the thing you said you would do.  This is where the law of consistency comes in, and this is what we will be discussing in part 2!  

Ever wonder how to stay consistent with your plan, even when things get tough.  Well, you are in luck!  That is what we will be talking about and it will be all about how to stay consistent with your plan.  Stay tuned!  

Are you looking to stay committed publicly to a health or wellness goal?  Our team is ready to help you!  Check out this amazing 14 Day Kickstart Program that will help you to get the ball rolling:

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Consistency

The Power of Consistency

By: Ben Fogel

I was recently asked by a client what is the one thing I would recommend to see results over the long term.  My answer was, consistency. 

But then, here is the issue.

Most people think about fitness in terms of sprints. 

21-day fat loss challenges, 6-week body transformations, 1 week juice cleanses.  

These “sprints” involve intense periods of training that are in essence and by design unsustainable. They may  work great for those 20 something year olds out there (but not forever), but for the rest of us who have the complexities of life, not so much.  Because, well sometimes life can get in the way.  

As we all age, we should be re-framing our idea of what achieving results looks like, and in what time-frame achieving those results takes.  We should give ourselves a little solace in the fact that it may take a little longer than we expect, and that is where consistency comes in.  

Quite simply:

You should be aiming for less intensity and more consistency, and over a longer time horizon.    

Health and wellness is a marathon, not a sprint.

Just about every gym model out there is competing against the other and is looking to give you more results in less time.  The “best” 45 minute workout.  Or the “fastest” 20 minute routine.  Or the “hardest” 10 minute ab circuit.  

Sorry to break it to you.  But the more intense the workout is, the harder it will be to recover.  And if you are not recovering properly from your workouts, then you will not see results in the long run.  

Consistency isn’t simply willpower, which comes and goes. Consistency is doing it when you don’t feel like doing it.

If it truly matters to you in your life, you must work towards doing the things that matter on your best day and your worst day.  This is where having a very strong and powerful “why” comes into play.  

That “why” may be that you just want to be able to play with and pick up your kids and/or grandkids without pain.  It may be that you want to go on that hike and not slow down your friends of family.

But here is what many fail to realize –  being a successful and high-achieving human is the result of consistent effort over a very long time horizon. 

That’s why if every day is an intense day, we struggle to stay consistent.

Use this framework next time you look at doing the “next hot thing” on the internet –

Think more about what your results will look like 5 years from now, not just 6 weeks from now.

Your health, well-being and your results will thank you for it.

You are here because you are probably looking for sustainable change, and not just a quick fix.  Well, you came to the right place.  You probably also want to try out a new routine to make sure it is sustainable for you, right?  You can check out our 30 Day VIP Experience below, where you can see for yourself what truly sustainable training, recovery and nutrition looks like and that is completely customized to you and your body.

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My Wake Up Call

My Wake Up Call

By: Ben S. Fogel

I think at some point in all of our lives, we will have a proverbial “wake up” call. Something that made you change course in your life.  

A near fatal accident in your car while driving and texting.

A health scare either caused by your lifestyle choices, or not.

A conversation you had with someone older and wiser then you that got you to make a change in your life. 

Or maybe at some point in life you made the choice to “wake up” to the fact that maybe your current actions are not in congruence with the person that you want to become.  Or maybe you haven’t yet, and if that is the case keep reading… 

It doesn’t always take a life altering event to make a massive change in a better direction.  

Although, in my life – it did.  

October 13th, 2015.  Yes, this was also Friday the 13th.  Coincidence, I think not.  

This was the day I received a call from my gastrointestinal Doctor after months and months of tests – poking and prodding – and after two liver biopsies.  He finally had an answer for what was causing me super abnormally high liver enzyme levels (think like a fatty liver, or what you can get with alcoholism).  

When he called the first thing he asked me was “Are you sitting down for this?”  I am now. 

Then he went on “The good news is we finally figured out what is causing all of this inflammation in your liver.  The last biopsy showed that you have a very rare form of Leukemia, Large Granular Lymphocytic Leukemia, and it has infiltrated your liver.” 

I. Was. Speechless.  

He went on “The bad news is, well, I don’t treat cancers but I do know a great Oncology team that I feel can help you.”  

That was the call.  I remember it so vividly.  I was getting my oil changed, and right there in public I had no idea what to do next.  

All the thoughts running through my head were “Do I call Amy (my wife) first, or my Dad? What about my Mom?  Wait, she will freak out, don’t call her.”  

Honestly, I didn’t know what to think at that moment.  So I just sat and focused hard in that present moment at what I had in my life.  

Two kids under the age of 3.  An amazingly supportive wife.  A brand new business venture that was less than 2 years old.  I had a lot of “new” things in my life, and now this was another “new” thing to deal with.  

This new thing was different.  This was my “wake up” call.  

(There I am after one of my Bone Marrow Biopsies.  Not the most fun time)

It woke me up to realize how valuable every moment in my life was, especially with my family and my kids.   

It woke me up to focus on all the things I could control.

My attitude.

My mindset.

My actions. 

My time (and how I used or abused it).

I had a very good reason now to put myself first.  For the 2 years previous to this that wasn’t the case. I was working “In” my business between 80-100 hours a week.  This was not sustainable.  I knew this.  But, if it weren’t for my wake up call, I may have stayed “in it” for much, much longer.  

At one of my first visits with my Cancer specialists, they told me how bad things really were.  “50/50 chance of survival, but you do have your age and health on your side.”  

That’s when I remember I saw this quote somewhere:

A person who has their health, has a thousand dreams. But the person that’s lost their health, has only one dream.” 

The average age of someone with the type of Leukemia I had was mid 70’s.  I was diagnosed at 35.  Also, I was 6 years removed from competing at World Cup and World Championship level in the sport of Bobsled (and was actually preparing a comeback to the sport, and it was a sports physical that found the initial elevated liver enzymes).  

Looking in the camera, Winterberg, Germany

I am saying all of this because the Doctor’s were right.  I did have a lot of things on my side.  But I was starting to rely on my genetics, and was “too busy” to stay as healthy as I was in the past.  

I needed to make a change, and this diagnosis forced it on me.  

What did I change?  A lot.  Here were just a few things:

  • My focus shifted from trying to work on “everything” in my business to asking for help from my staff and delegating much more.
  • I prioritized my sleep much more – no more days of 5 hours or less of sleep – I strived for 7. 
  • I focused on antioxidant rich foods (mainly working to eat vegetables at almost every meal) because I knew I was missing this, and had the control to change my nutrition.
  • I carved out time for self care.

This was a complete mindset shift, and the shift came from staring at my mortality straight in the face and saying “Wait a minute, I have some say in this.  Maybe I can’t control whether or not the medication works, but I can control all these other inputs in my life.”  

Fast forward and I was in treatment until October, 2017 and have been in remission for almost 5 years now.  

You don’t need a huge life event to make a change in your life.  All you need is that internal switch in your mind to go off and to tell yourself “Enough is enough, I am ready to focus on me now.”  

So take a moment, sit down and focus on it at this moment.  What can you do right now to make one tiny change in your life?  That tiny change may be the tipping point to a different future for you and your family, like it was for me…

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Why “Slow and Steady” always wins the race

Why “Slow and Steady” always wins the race

By: Ben S. Fogel

There are so many internet businesses out there that are spending millions and millions of dollars to buy your eyes and attention to purchase that next “quick fix” – the next “Magic Pill.”  

The more money they spend on advertising the next pill, potion, supplement, or challenge, the more money they make – AND the more people they lead down a path that is not sustainable.  

After spending over 16 years in the health and fitness industry, and working with thousands of clients, I can confidently say there is NO magic pill.  There is no quick fix that will target that “stubborn belly fat” or that will “melt away” body fat like never before.  

What all of these amazing marketers are not telling you is that the real magic pill is consistency over time and having the discipline to stay the course.  


(Are you the Tortoise, or the Hair?)

Actually, I have an equation for being able to create sustainable healthy change over the long term:

CONSISTENCY (HABITS) + DISCIPLINE + DESIRE = SUSTAINABLE RESULTS

My advice is this: stop throwing money away at the “next big thing” or some crazy supplement that your co-worker started to take and is telling you about.  Start investing in daily health habits that will build consistency over time. 

If all you did was drink plenty of water, ate adequate protein (At least .75 grams/pound of BW – see link HERE for more info.), and had vegetables at most meals you would be well on your way for just about any health, wellness, performance goal.  

Now, I will admit this equation above is simple, but not easy.  How do you start to build consistency?  By building small habits (Check out my article here all about how to make an “implementation intention” and to start to build consistency).  

Small habits then start to lead to “routine” and this is really the secret sauce.  The more unconscious we can make our habits lead into a daily routine, the more success we will have.  The more habits we can “stack” upon the others, the more likely we will start to “run downhill” as I like to say (Check out the easiest way to “habit stack” here!).

Next in the equation is discipline.  Can you remember a time in your life when you had a specific goal that you were working towards, and you had to get a little uncomfortable to achieve said goal?  

Maybe you had a goal to run a marathon and getting up every other morning to run a new distance got you a little uncomfortable, but you built the “discipline muscle” and did it every day because it was going to get you closer to your goal of running a marathon.  

Or maybe you were studying for an important final exam in school, and you knew you had to hit a certain grade to make the grade you wanted in that class.  So, what did you do?  You probably scheduled out time in your day (time you thought previously you didn’t even have) to study and work on the problems you knew were going to be on the test.  And then you succeeded.  

Discipline is a valuable character, and when combined with consistency, it can help you become unstoppable in accomplishing any goal you set in front of you.  

Lastly, but definitely not least is desire.  Desire is probably the strongest part of this equation.  If you don’t have a strong “Why” as we call it in the gym – a strong reason for WHY you are actually doing what you are doing, then it will be difficult to follow through with the consistency and discipline to get you there.  

Here are some questions you can ask yourself that will help lead you to your “Why”:  

  • Why is achieving this goal so important to you?
  • Why now?
  • What would happen in your life if you made this change, and achieved your goal?
  • What would be the consequence in your life if you did nothing, and made no change?

Build up your “desire” muscle strong enough that even when you do fall off the wagon, you can quickly jump back on.  

So next time you pull out your phone and see some fancy ad for a new fat loss strategy, or a new pill that is guaranteed to melt fat off your body, think back to all of the things that you have control over.   

You have control over your consistency (your daily habits), your discipline, and your desire.  Nobody can take those characteristics away from you!

Ready to start your journey of consistency over time?  We have a few spots left for our VIP 30 Day Experience.  Check it out before the spaces are gone!

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Play in the Present

How to “Play in the Present”

Time seems to be just flying by!  Can you remember March of 2020?  Doesn’t it feel like yesterday?  The Pandemic seemed to put us in some sort of warp speed, or time travel.  Where hours moved faster and the days, weeks and months just flew on by.  

Now more than ever is a time when we should be focusing on the present.  Being in the present moment allows so much more clarity in our lives, and will ultimately lead to so much more joy. 

But, it is much harder to focus on the present and actually…be present.  So today, I wanted to offer some insights on how to work on being more present and how this practice actually lowers stress and helps you feel much better.   

First off, if we are “dragging on” about the past, or “getting anxious” about the future we will tend to lose focus on the “right now.”  One of the first things that increases stress in our lives is stressing about the past or the future.  

I love this definition of stress with this amazing quote from Eckhart Tolle:

“Stress is the desire for things to be different than they are in this present moment.”  

Read that line above one more time…let it really sink in.  

Here are a few steps for lowering stress:

  1. Acceptance – Accept that what is going on around you is outside your control.  Stress doesn’t come from events and circumstances; rather stress comes from our response or our resistance to those events and circumstances.  Remember, it is not the events in our lives that define us, it is the meaning that we attach to the event that matters.  
  2. Victim mentality – We are no longer a victim to the events going on in the world.  We get to choose our response to each situation.  Remember, you always have the “keys to the car.”  Pull yourself away from having the “victim mentality.”
  3. Applying Focus – Take a moment, in the moment to focus on the present and to take a deep breath and be grateful for the moment you are in.  This can be something as simple as counting 10 deep breaths and only being focused on your breathing, and nothing more.  

One of the best quotes I have heard for the definition of living in the present moment is this:

“To be where your feet are.”

Once you have focused on lowering your stress levels, here are 3 steps for being able to “play in the present moment” and to be where your feet are:

  1. Just focus on the next “play” in your life.  Don’t worry about the play that just happened, focus on what you are going to do next in this present moment. 
  2. Focus on what you have control over.  I love to say “Control the Controllables.”  Focusing on your own attitude and effort can be the two biggest levers you can use to play big in your present moments.  
  3. Focus on the process, not the outcome.  

I want to dive in a little bit more on why focusing on the process is so much more valuable than purely focusing on the outcome.  

First off, I want to say that focusing on outcome based goals can be a good way to focus on more short term goals.  For example, if you have a wedding you want to get ready for in 6 weeks and want to look and feel a certain way in that wedding gown, you may have specific nutritional habits you will focus on or you may also be working out more intensely until your “moment” comes.  

In sports, having short term, outcome based goals happen all the time.  

When I competed at the highest level nationally and internationally for 7 years in the sport of Bobsled.  The outcome goal every 4 years was to win a gold medal.  Even though I never won a gold medal, looking back it was actually the process of showing up day after day and training for 6-8 hours each day that made that part of my life more fulfilling.  I would even argue that by me learning to get comfortable being uncomfortable and doing hard things made me more resilient in my life right now.  

I know a lot of athletes that medaled at the Olympic Games – this was the ultimate outcome based goal – and when they reached the top of that mountain, they had no idea what to do next. In fact, they felt lost, depressed, even defeated for not knowing what next steps to take next in their life.  

This is where having process based goals are so important.

“Focus on the journey, not the destination.”  

I know this is one of the most overused quotes out there, but it is true.  Joy is not always found in finishing a goal, but actually in the processes it takes to get you there. 

If you can get one takeaway from this post, this might be it:

If you can detach from the outcome, and just love the process and the work involved to get you there, you will be well on your way.  

On the other hand, when outcomes and results in your life start to define your self-worth, that is when you will invariably start to have problems – mentally, emotionally and physically.  

The “One Brick at a time” Analogy

If I was tasked with building a brick wall, I feel I have the confidence that I can build a brick wall.  Even though I have zero training in building a brick wall; I have no masonry training, and have never done it before.  But I am still highly confident I can do it. The reason is, I have trained myself to not worry about the end result – not to worry about the finished product of the brick wall.  

Instead, I am going to put all my focus into laying each and every brick – one by one – with care and precision.  If I can take one brick, and set it exactly where it needs to go, then grab the next brick and set it exactly where it needs to go – and if I do that consistently and over time, the wall will just take care of itself.  I don’t have to be worried about the wall (the outcome), I just need to be focused on laying one brick at a time (the process).  

The brick wall analogy really hit home personally for me.  It helped me realize the piece that most people are missing in the equation when they are looking for results – and that is TIME.  Time helps compound your results, and when you keep your effort level the same, and compound it with time, you will always do better than looking at short term fixes, diets, fads, cleanses (or anything else in your life, really!).   

Here is the equation I love to use when thinking of a process based goal:

Effort x Consistency x Time = Results

Time is usually the one missing variable in goal setting, and in feeling better about enjoying the process.  

Outcome based goals in action

Our Epic Fitness Rockstars are being challenged to complete 100 workouts between July 1st and December 31st.  It is the halfway point of the year, and so much of the time we look back at the last 6 months and think, “What happened?”  Remember that New Year’s Resolution?  How did that work out for you?  That was more than likely an outcome based goal.

The 100 Workout Challenge is a processed based goal and challenge.  We want all of our members to focus on the process of consistency, and when paired with effort and time, they will be rewarded with a body that can do more for them than when they started on day 1.  

Want to learn more about the 100 workout challenge, or even do it with us?!  Check it all out below, as we would love to be in your corner during the next 6 months of your fitness and health journey.  And if you are a member, don’t forget to sign up in person at the gym!

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Fitness After 40

Fitness over 40 – How to thrive as you age with your fitness and health

By: Ben Fogel

I was recently asked by a client about this topic, and more specifically questions around these 3 categories of fitness for folks over the age of 40.  Here were the questions we are going to answer today. 

How does a body over 40:

  1. Work out as effectively and efficiently as possible while avoiding injury?
  2. Gain muscle and flexibility?
  3. Work out for the best cardiovascular health?

How does a body over 40 work out as effectively and efficiently as possible while avoiding injury? 

The secret as you age lies in the adage “little and often over the long haul.”  Being over 40 myself, I am constantly reminded of this.  When I was in my 20’s, intense workout bouts (often two-a-days) were the norm when I was competing in the sport of Bobsled.  Then, as happens more often than not, life (and life goals) change.

Looking in the camera, Winterberg, Germany – 2004

Now, at 42, I am prioritizing my recovery from workouts that are far less frequent.  My goal is to strength train 3x/week, and this is also what we recommend to all of our clients at Epic since it is the most attainable and achievable.  It is also what we find to not only be the best “minimum effective dose” and helps our clients get the best results.  

So, we recommend strength training 3x/week along with prioritizing great sleep, supportive nutrition, and even soft tissue work.  In this way, we are able to hit our workouts with great effort each time.  Trying to go all out every single day is not at all what we recommend.  Although we do support and recommend some sort of movement every day (whether it be walks, rucks, metabolic classes, etc) we don’t recommend training at an all-out intensity every day.  

In addition to this, your workouts should be structured in a way in which you are changing your volume and intensity on a weekly and monthly basis, which will help enhance your recovery and help you stay your strongest as you age.  At Epic Fitness, every member has their very own custom program that will progress in volume and intensity each month.  

Lastly, and probably one of the most important points here – Warming up is often the most highly overrated part of the workout, but is truly the most important piece.  Your body needs the extra time to “ramp up” and prepare for the strength training session.  Elevating your heart rate, and getting your joints mobilized may be the best thing you can do each and every time prior to your workouts.  

How does a body over 40 gain muscle and flexibility?  

Gaining muscle as we age can have many roadblocks, but it is not impossible to accomplish.  As our hormones change, along with many of the other factors above, it can be very hard to realize strength and muscle gains.  However, the best way to maintain (and gain) muscle is with a consistent strength training routine.  

So, to answer the question of if you can actually gain muscle over 40 – we say a resounding YES – but with these qualifiers: 

  • Your level of training volume and intensity is appropriate (3x/week strength training)
  • You are eating sufficient protein daily (at least .7 grams and up to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight).
  • You are getting minimum 7 hours of sleep a night
  • Your calorie intake is sufficient (not in a calorie deficit of over 200 calories per day)

When it comes to flexibility, the quality of our tissue changes over time.  As we age, our muscles and joints need a little extra TLC to maintain mobility.  Training movements with a full range of motion, along with prioritizing your warm up and tissue quality all become massively important here.  

How does a body over 40 work out best for cardiovascular health?  

For cardiovascular health, one of the best things you can do is strength training.  What you sometimes don’t realize is that when you strength train, there will be large variations in your heart rate.  This is what we want for cardiovascular health, lots of peaks and valleys with your heart rate. 

During a training session, the more you can bring your heart rate up to 75-85% of your max, then recover between 15-20%, the more efficient your heart will become.  In addition, one of the most overrated exercises that you can do ANYWHERE is walking.  Especially when you add some hills, and maybe even a backpack on your back (also known as rucking!). 

As little as 15-20 minutes of walking a day can have such a positive impact not only on your cardiovascular health, but also on your sleep, your mood (catching those Vitamin D waves!) and your overall health.  

Final Thoughts…

I wanted to take a quick moment to talk about how your mindset plays a huge role in all of this.  You can truly improve both the quality and quantity of your life by adopting these lifestyle habits we touched on above.  

It also feels like the entire conversation about aging should be changing for the better.  At this moment, in 2022, there are scientists out there (Dr. David Sinclair at Harvard has written a landmark book about this called Lifespan) that has proven if you live into the next 10 years, science will have changed so much to change the human lifespan by decades!  Yes, you heard that right.  What we thought were our final years in our 70’s or 80’s will be more like our 100’s to 110’s!  Cell regeneration will be a thing – just imagine every cell in your liver being able to regenerate to the day you were born… this IS the future.  

The reason I am bringing this up is because you STILL have to take care of your body, as you only have one.  Working out, eating healthy, and recovery are all a massively huge part of living your 70’s and 80’s like it is your 40’s and 50’s.  Because, by the time we get there 30 years down the road, that is what we should be ready for.  No longer will we be calling this our “Golden” years, but our likely our gold years where we are still thriving and feeling amazing!  

At least this is the future that I am looking forward to.  I look forward to my next workout, because I know how much it will help me feel great at 85, and still move and feel my best.  

Now, the only question I have for you is this:

Are you with me?! 

Ready to learn more about how our customized approach can not only add years to your active lifespan, but also get you feeling amazing TODAY?!  Check out our VIP Experience where you get everything we have to offer!  

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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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