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.”

Walking

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.  

Nutrition

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

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. 

Book Your Discovery Call

 

References

  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. 

Examples: 

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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What I learned in Bobsled that changed my life – Part 2

What I learned in the sport of Bobsled that changed my life – Part 2

By: Ben S. Fogel

In part one, I discussed a lot about the actions I took to make the obscure switch to the sport of Bobsled, and a few of the lessons I learned along the way (Find Part 1 of this blog here).  In part 2, I am excited to share stories from “on and off the ice” and continue to share lessons learned where I transformed the most from over the course of my athletic and business career.  

Ok, where was I?  It was June, 2003 and I had just completed my first Bobsled combine.  After the combine, they gave you a scoring sheet and you could chart your score and figure out your total based on the 600 point maximum score (6 scored criteria, 100 points each).  I distinctly remember my score was 512 – An average of around 85 points per event.  My friend and college track teammate scored a 486, so it was now official – I won that $100 bet!  I remember the coaches said they would email or call us and notify us if we did good enough to make it to the next level and fly out to Lake Placid, NY to learn how to push a Bobsled.

July, 2003

About one month later, I got the call.  It was the head coach inviting me to come out to Lake Placid for a 2 week Bobsled camp.  I was literally just finishing up my degree at school with 2 internships, and I remember begging my instructor to be able to leave 1 week early so I could make this camp, and still graduate.  The begging paid off, and I packed up to get ready to travel to New York for the first time.  

The next 4 weeks of my life felt like they went in hyperspeed.  I got to call the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, New York my new temporary home (mainly since I only bought a one-way ticket, I guess you could say I was pretty confident!).  The first week started with completing yet another combine like the one the month prior, and also learning how to push bobsleds on an outdoor track surface with actual bobsleds on wheels connected to a railroad track.  Needless to say, there was a lot of testing and re-testing and what started as one month at the Olympic Training Center ended up being 3 months.  

I remember a big part of the selection process at the time was based on how fast we could individually push the sled on wheels, and how fast we could do it in different pairs as teammates.  I knew from doing my second combine there that I wasn’t the fastest guy out there, or the strongest, but I knew my main advantage was how hard I would work before and after practice on the technique of pushing the sled – that included getting the sled going with a great start, as well as loading into the sled – two points of major technical errors that could cost tenths of seconds in races.  In the bobsled world, tenths of seconds equated to miles apart.  

So, I would show up anywhere between 30-60 minutes before the training time actually occurred and I would also stay at least that long afterward to make sure what I learned and practiced was ingrained in my mind and body.  These extra minutes over the course of a day turned into hours and hours over the few weeks I was there to “prove myself” as a viable candidate for the National Team.  The extra time and hard work paid off.  I was selected as an “alternate” team member for the US National Bobsled Team in 2003/2004.  

Lesson – The habit of being the first one to show up, and the last one to leave is a good habit that rubs off in everything you do.  I know at a certain point, the coaches started to notice because they would make comments like, “I guess we have to wait for Fogel until we can lock up the sleds.”  This habit has stuck with me through my life, especially when I am needing to learn new skills in life.  I may not have been the most natural or gifted athlete, but I made sure that I could look back and say that my cheat code to improve was giving myself more time to learn.  

I actually want to share a story of when this habit really helped me.  It was the 2004/05 season, and I made the National Team again, but this time not as an alternate.  I made it on the “USA 2” sled of Steve Holcomb.  Being one year prior to the Olympic year, it was a very competitive year and everyone wanted a chance to compete at the 2005 World Championships because if you did, you basically cemented your chances of making an Olympic team the following year.  

This was the year of the “switch ups.”  I think almost every World Cup race during the first half of the season, our 4-man team was switched up with a new push athlete because of one reason or another.  The part that made it extra fun was that just about every switch up included me moving on and off the sled!  I remember sliding one weekend in Winterberg, Germany, and our team capturing our first top 10 finish, and then at the start of the next week the coaches letting me know that I was not going to compete the following week in Altenberg, Germany because of my “riding position” being too high in the sled.  

There I am, riding too high in the sled! 

I was upset at first.  My riding position?  Why did I never hear about this before?  I didn’t even have a chance to correct my technique (which would have been an easy fix).  Why not just say, “Ben, we think you are the slowest guy on the sled, and we are going to try a new guy to see if we are faster next week.”  Speed kills in the sport of bobsled, and that would have been an easier pill to swallow.  

I could have sulked and been disappointed the entire next week, but as an “Alternate” I still had the opportunity to help out my team.  I was the first one down to the sleds in the garage of the hotel sanding runners, I helped USA 1, 2 and 3 transport sleds.  I remember telling each driver that I was available to take training runs if any other athletes needed to rest.  I was the last one to leave the garage each night making sure everything was ready on each sled for the next day.  I remember a teammate that was competing that week said to me, “why are you doing all of this, you aren’t even sliding this week?”  Ah, he noticed.  It didn’t matter if I was sliding or not, I acted this way each and every week whether I competed or not, and I felt confident that I could help the team even if I was not competing.  I started to get nicknamed the “sled dog” by all of my teammates, and I kept telling them how much of a compliment that was!    

That weekend was a super successful one for our team.  Todd Hayes, USA 1 ended up winning the 4-man race on the home turf of the Germans (something that is SUPER rare!) on one of the most technical tracks in the world.  After the race, the whole team went out to dinner to celebrate the win.  The first place “trophy” was a beautiful glass blown bowl, and each athlete on Todds team received this for winning.  During dinner, Todd stood up and made an announcement.  He said, “Everyone here deserves to be celebrated for this huge win today.  Also, if it wasn’t for Fogel being the sled dog during the entire week and helping us with all the little things on and off the ice, we probably would not have won today.  Because of that, I want to give this trophy to you!”  

My boys a few years back when I told them the story!

My boys a few years back when I told them the story!

 

This was one of those moments that really cemented the reason of WHY it was so important to me to continue to show up, even when things were not going my way.  I was in control of my actions when I got pulled off that sled, and I chose to stay positive and to help my team in every other way that I could.  

After that race in Altenberg, we came back to the US for Christmas break.  I remember this break really well, because usually the coaching staff and managers call you about 1 week prior to departure back to Europe with flight details, but I never got a call.  When I finally called the manager, he said “Didn’t the coaches tell you, they did not select you to come out and slide with the National Team for the second half of the season.”  Wait, what?  This was one of the most difficult weeks for me in my Bobsled career.  Telling my family I am staying home, and not competing in a pre-Olympic year.  What ended up feeling like a curse though, was a blessing in disguise.  

John Napier, an up-and-coming bobsled pilot, got word that I would be sitting out for the second half of the season, and he asked me to slide with him in the “America’s Cup” North American Circuit.  I took the opportunity to continue to get better and to still compete.  What happened next was pretty amazing.  We won.  Not just one race, but multiple races.  We won every race we entered into.  Our 4-man team became the “America’s Cup” Champions, and that did not go unnoticed by the coaching staff out in Europe.  

By the time the National Team came back to the US, they had not fared very well, and were looking for different solutions.  The strength coach told the coaching staff how well my team was pushing in the races we competed in, and they chose me to come back onto “USA 2” in the last World Cup race prior to the World Championships in Calgary, Alberta.  

Our team ended up taking 4th place and was hundredths of seconds from medaling.  I thought that would have been good enough to have proven myself and been able to stay on the sled for the World Championships in 2 weeks.  But I was wrong.  What it turned into was a huge raceoff to find the fastest guy to take my spot.   

Team Holcomb, 4th place Igls, Austria – 2004 (Pictured – Left to Right – Brock Kreitzburg, Ben Fogel, Curt Tomasevicz, Steve Holcomb)

Fast forward one week, and we are all up in Calgary, Alberta preparing for the big  race.  I remember the coaches kept telling me I was the “incumbent” and it was my spot to lose.  Every day, it felt like they flew up another past Olympian (that didn’t even compete all year!) to race off against me.  

I remember the day clearly.  I was well rested.  I knew what was going to happen.  We were at the Indoor Icehouse at Calgary Olympic Park where there was a 50 meter ice track that replicated the start of a bobsled track.  It was the coaches job to find the perfect combination of push athletes for the USA 2 sled, and to be as competitive as possible in the race.  It was my job to beat every athlete that raced off against me.  

I remember taking about 15-20 runs that morning (normally a session would consist of 5-7 runs max) and I remember being so tired by the end.  Every time, you are hitting maximum velocity and pushing a 400+ lb sled for 30 meters.  I knew with the race off I was going to push a lot, and I was prepared for that.  I also remember beating each combination they tried against me – over and over again.  When it was all said and done,  I felt I did everything in my power to keep my spot on the sled and to really “earn it” this time.  

That afternoon, I got a call from Steve Holcomb, the driver – not even the coaches.  I remember the call so well.  He summed up that morning pretty well by telling me “Ben, looks like you proved today that you belong on my sled.  Don’t do anything this weekend that shows that I made the wrong decision.”  I remember telling him he made the right choice, and I knew in the end it was the driver’s decision of who he felt most comfortable on the sled.  But I also knew that I had the chance that morning to PROVE I was the fastest, and had the most grit to compete and keep my spot.  

That week we took 8th place in the world – at the time the best finish for Steve Holcomb – and we had top 10 start times in the field as well.  

Lesson – Don’t Quit.  No matter how long the road looks, or how many times you get knocked down or out, don’t quit.  When I was a young kid, I remember my father told me, “No one can make you quit at something, except for you.”  Remembering that, and knowing that only I had the power to quit, to give up was a very powerful thing.  Now, I do know there are times when we have to “pivot” in life and try a new path.  That is different.  What I have learned in life is no matter your circumstance, you have the power to make the change. 

 

Ernie’s Transformation

Ernie’s Amazing Transformation

“I just went through a divorce, I had no confidence and I was 316lbs.”

Ernie joined Epic Fitness in a stressful season of life, and was looking to make some positive changes.

“At the beginning, getting in the doors sucked.  But once I finished a few sessions, I realized this was a mountain I could climb. I started losing weight and my success snowballed from there.”

Ernie took initiative and talked with our team about a nutrition plan and how to stay consistent. He watched his calorie intake, stayed sober and maintained focus on his goals of feeling better and stronger in his body.

The result? He has lost 105 pounds!



He is now is 211 pounds and not only working hard in the gym, but staying active in his life and job.  It is not just about the weight loss for him, either.  He now has the energy to play with his 2 kids, to work more efficiently with his job that requires manual labor, and so much more!  

We are SO proud to be a part of Ernie’s success story and can’t want to see where he goes from here!

We have extended the discount through the end of the year, so you can STILL save over $400 on our most popular New Years program AND become a part of our tribe for the first 3 months of the year. Don’t wait too long, time and space is running out!!  We only have 3 spots left. 
 
Click the link below to learn more and to join us in becoming the best version of yourself in 2022!