Friday Fitness Reads

So this is a new thing.

Some of you know this already but I’m in the process of putting together a new site, Facebook page, Instagram account and YouTube channel for my personal training gig tentatively named JTFStrong. The thing about starting a fitness blog, however, is you have to have regular content and regular is something I don’t necessarily do very well on this one. While I intend to move all things fitness to the new site, during the process of building it and figuring out some other stuff I’m going to start toying with some fitness posts here. That starts today.

For me, Fridays are for writing out next week’s workout plans both for myself and my clients, putting together next week’s meal plan and writing out my grocery list for Sunday. It’s now also apparently for sharing some fitness and nutrition links I’ve checked out this week and want to share.

Progress is Progress and Fat Loss is Not Linear from Stacey Schaedler Strength
One common misconception I run into time and time again from friends, family and clients who are trying to lose weight or get in shape is that if the numbers on the scale aren’t changing, then they’re doing something wrong. Sure, if you’re doing NOTHING, then there’s a lot of room for improvement, but if you’re doing all the right things, you’re doing all the right things. Plateaus happen. Hell, you may even GAIN weight on your journey, but this doesn’t mean you aren’t progressing. From the article: Let’s say you lost 2 lbs a week for a month and then 1.5 lbs the next week and ZERO the following…this week of stalling DOESN’T MEAN things aren’t progressing. It doesn’t mean your program needs to be adjusted, you have to drastically cut calories or that you have to do cardio. It most likely means you have to CHILL THE FUCK OUT. True dat, tue dat.

Change Your Thoughts to Crush Your Goals from Breaking Muscle
As the old Cherokee parable concludes, in the fight within yourself, the wolf you feed is the wolf that wins. This article focuses less on muscle head motivation and hypertrophe science, more on developing the right mindset to succeed in life. While we have very little control over what happens to us, we have all the control in the world when it comes to interpreting those happenings. We’re ever-evolving and it’s up to us to determine how that evolution progresses. Are we getting stronger/better/smarter? Or are we merely hopeless and helpless victims of an unfair universe? You get to decide.

A Nerd’s Guide to Mindfulness: Be More Mindful With These Steps from NerdFitness
Mindfulness is ironically something I consider a lot but never practice because my mind is often too scattered to concern myself with it. NerdFitness is a great resource for many things and one of their strengths is their 101-style posts like this one on mindfulness. If you want to explore some pretty easy ways to silence your mind and be more present, this is a great place to start.

Boeuf Bourguignon recipe from The Domestic Man
I love recipes from the Domestic Man. This boeuf bourguignon is gluten-free, paleo, primal and perfect health diet-friendly so there’s really no reason you shouldn’t make it this week like I hope to.

It Takes More than Talent from Breaking Muscle
Shut up and do the work. This article is aimed at heavy lifters with strength training coaches but there’s a lot of information here for the average Joe. I think a lot of people go into a sport or fitness in general with high hopes — and that’s fine — but when they start comparing themselves to people that have been training for years, instead of being motivated to push harder they become discouraged and quit. That’s dumb. This article addresses that. Also addressed: The simple truth that you are talented and infinitely so…But you’re not the only one. You’re special but also not. Regardless of talent, you’re not worth a shit if you don’t show up and do the work.

Disliking Your Body Doesn’t Have to be ‘Part of Being a Woman’ by Nia Shanks
Most of our clients at my Title Boxing Club are women so their well-being and confidence are a huge part of my life. This article does a great job of promoting the idea of focusing more on what your body can do as opposed to its shortcomings. While this is particularly useful for women, there’s a bit of truth to be had here for men, too, as we often have a lot of unattainable perfection forced on us in various ways.

Finally, this may not have much to do with fitness but ever since she ran away with my heart, I’ve decided my goal in life is to be the kind of guy Lana Del Rey would sing about. I think that makes this relevant. She has a new record coming out soon and she dropped another single off it this week. Listen to it but maybe wait until you’re home to do it because you’ll have a hard time staying clothed.

Living the Dream and Everything In-Between

I’m going to start this relatively long post in a format similar to my last to reenact a conversation I had with a coworker on my way to lunch on Monday.


Hey, man. What’s going on?

Living the dream.

I like it!

Though, I’m not sure whose dream it is.

Ha ha! Or why they’re dreaming it? Dammit, why do you have to dream this all the time? Where are all the hot chicks?

Or the millions of dollars? Or the expensive cars?

Admittedly, living the dream (to me, at least) should involve all the hot chicks, the millions of dollars and the expensive cars. For me, it would also include more country fried steak dinners and about 100% more six-pack abs. I’m certainly living a dream, just maybe not that one.

Twitter has been about the only social platform I’ve shown any love to in a while. It was pointed out to me recently that I hadn’t made a single post on my blog since the photo shoot back in September (save for my most recent and only post of October) and I noticed the last photo I uploaded to Instagram is now well over a month old. All’s quiet regarding my online presence but my offline life has been anything but(t).


Most spare time lately has been devoted to Title Boxing Club. Today marks one year since my very first class as a trainer and I’m currently doing 4 classes a week. Additionally, I’m logging 4 days of weight lifting following the routine Jim Stoppani’s 12 Week Shortcut to Size. I’m about to wrap up the 8th of 12 weeks outlined in the program and I’ve noticed quite a bit of definition coming out of nowhere and I’ve put on about 5lbs. Additionally, I’ve been running about twice per week equalling around four miles, which isn’t terrible considering I never fully got back into the swing of running after recovering from my half marathon back in April. I figure 8+ hours a week at the gym is pretty good regardless of how often I’m running.

Running is about to take off again, though, as Erin has decided she’s going to start training for her first 5k. I’m excited to help her on this journey, both because it’s something she never thought she’d ever be able to do and also because I think it’s going to relight the fire and passion for running I used to have. Her program starts next week so be prepared for more posts about her progress!

Despite not running regularly over the summer, I was able to check off one of my highest fitness goals: getting off of the ParTNers for Health Wellness Coaching program! Back when I was in terrible condition, I was signed up for that crazy program because my blood pressure was high and because I was on the diabetic line. During the first call, the coach asked me what my goals were and I responded by saying “Get well enough to not have to take these calls anymore.”

“Fair, enough,” came the response.

I had a bad attitude about it from the beginning because I didn’t want some motivational speaker guy calling me every few weeks asking me if I want to go out and throw the football around. Over the years, the calls weren’t as bad. The coaches were always friendly and while I’m confident they had no genuine interest in what I was up to, they did a great job at pretending. It was always fun to tell them how well I was doing and what all I was accomplishing despite the weird vitals they had saved in their system for me.

During my last call, I was prepared to let them know what all I had been up to and the coach told me “I’m going to say something to you that I never get to say to anyone: You’ve graduated the program! If you’d like, you can now opt out of receiving these phone calls and…”

“I’D LOVE TO DO THAT!” I interrupted. To paraphrase the rest of the conversation: “Okay, cool. Peace out!” Done. What an awesome feeling. Now we work on never being back on their radar ever again.

I guess the biggest happening during my silence has been my shift in jobs. I’m no longer in Nonlinear Video Operations and have moved over (literally three rows) into Metadata Operations, writing and editing titles, descriptions, keywords, and QC’ing written content for the brands. I’m on a team that I love and in the 6 weeks I’ve been a part of it, I’ve been amazed every single day at how well the team works together, how they have each other’s backs, and how well they treat each other. They welcomed me onto the team like they’d known me forever and continue to not make me feel like a moron even when I make the most dimwitted of spelling and grammar mistakes.

They’re rad, and I’m very happy. It feels good, man.


Speaking of…

Halloween was Monday (expect a photo post sometime later this week – hopefully) and Erin and I took Tuesday off to go day-after shopping. We picked up a bunch of stuff we didn’t need, hit more stores than we’d planned, and scored lots of good items. We were sitting at Chipotle eating lunch – a chicken and chorizo burrito – when it hit me. October was very busy, I’m learning more on my new job than I’ve learned with most other new jobs I’ve started, I’m still studying through my NASM certification, I’m working more at Title than usual, I’m almost always tired and the idea of going out during the week stresses me out. Yet here I was, sitting in one of my favorite restaurants, eating a burrito packed with an ingredient I didn’t think they’d ever get, across the table from a beautiful woman that loves me, with a car full of random Halloween shit in the parking lot…I’m definitely living my dream, and I don’t want anyone else’s.

April 3 is Getting Closer, Y’all…

Well, it’s Wednesday.

On January 1, I decided it would be a good idea to actually track my progress and measurements so I could better follow along with my health and fitness instead of randomly checking it from time to time. I recorded:

  1. My weight: Even though my weight is no longer much of a concern, I’d still like to drop another 5-10 pounds, maybe by this summer. No real reason, just a goal to achieve.
  2. The circumference of my arms, thighs, and waist: This year I’ve decided to take weight training more seriously and as much as I hate to say it, I’m looking to add some gainz.
  3. My three body fat percentage check points (measured with a caliper) and the total, overall body fat percentage it equalled out to: though, to be clear, I realize that body fat percentage measurements are about as valid as your BMI and are quite difficult to accurately measure. Keeping this in mind, I’m using the chart that came with my caliper and I record the percentage it gives me, then when I go to Title, I use their digital body fat percentage calculator and record that number, then consider my actual body fat percentage the average of the two.
  4. My blood pressure: Mainly because this was the first of many things that got me into the health mess I was in to begin with.
  5. My fasting glucose level: This was the number that freaked me out the worst on the physical I got a couple of years ago – the wake up call, if you will.

I’m honest enough to admit that I’m nowhere near disciplined enough to record these daily, nor am I even willing to do it weekly. Monthly, however, seemed doable, so on the first day of every month, I get down to measuring. I was all excited to finally share some of this in the blog this week because I’ve built a handy dandy spreadsheet that builds out some fun charts based on my weigh-in day input so I can actually see my progress but…Since I only have 3 months worth of information, even the slightest change looks intense. Since I somehow gained a pound in the month of February, my graph looked like I had gained 10. So I’m just going to keep those to myself until April 1 just so it makes me look a little better. No shame, here.

April 1 is going to be two days before the Covenant Health Half Marathon. That’s 32 days from now. According to my original training plan, I would be about to start my tapering for this week’s long run but I have failed miserably in the “staying on the plan” front. I have a massive list of excuses that range from visiting in-laws, to snow and ice, to just being too lazy to get up and go. I suffered the set back in December and, to be honest, I really just don’t think I ever truly recovered motivation-wise.

This doesn’t change the fact that the race is still happening. I’ve already coughed up the dough and my name is on the list. I just have to show up and make it happen, for better or for worse. I was a little encouraged when a coworker told me recently when he ran his half last year, the longest run he’d ever completed was 7 miles. I’ve ran 7, 7.5, 8, 8.5, and even 9 miles before, so if he can run 13.1 with a 7 mile distance PR, then I can certainly make it happen with a 9 miler under my belt.

This won’t mean much to non-Knoxville folks, but Covenant Health finally finalized the route for this year’s half and sent it out to us today. Here’s what it looks like:

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 7.12.52 PM

So even though I’m really as ready right now as I’m going to be for this race, I’m still going to try to get in a few longer runs in before the big day. And to up my desire to get out there, I finally got around to picking up some new running shoes for the occasion:

These are OMNI 14s by Saucony and they feel great on my feet. A bit lighter with a little less “support” than the Brooks running shoes I had previously (and worn a big hole in the toe in). Silly how snazzy new shoes will motivate you to use them like they do. While in the store, I also thumbed through the basket of race stickers and found a 13.1 sticker I’m planning to get the day after I finish my race:


So while I’m putting the old Brooks to rest, I still went out twice last week for a few last miles while I had them. A quick mile after my Friday morning Power Hour at Title Boxing Club, and a rather brief run on Sunday morning just down a semi-busy city street.

This street I ran down has many super Richie Rich neighborhoods connected to it, some with sidewalks. When I approached one that went up a steady hill, I decided to go for it just to get that little bit of hill work in on an otherwise level trail. I kept a steady pace as I climbed…And climbed…and climbed…I saw the top of the hill was near so I just kept going, not bothering to see how long the hill was. When I got to the top, I was huffing and puffing like an out of shape smoker but I had definitely conquered the hill and I took a few brief seconds to catch my breath and to enjoy the view this vantage point gave me of West Knoxville. I began going back down the hill, this time taking care to measure exactly how far up this hill I went.

Turns out it was a quarter mile up. Which is a bitch of an uphill run. Later, when I was checking my Runtastic stats, it turns out this quarter mile hill achieved an increase in elevation of 200+ feet! It’s no wonder it killed me like it did, and even less wonder why I cut my run short before hitting 3 miles!

Running sucks, y’all.

Anyway, here’s what we’re looking like going into March. I’m still keeping up my 4-5 times per week at Title in addition to a new weight lifting routine, but if I don’t get off my butt on non-gym days and get in some miles, my 350 mile yearly goal is going to get missed…Again.

Last Week

Mileage 3.5 Miles (5.63km)
Avg. Pace 10:37/mile (6:35/km)

2016 Running

Runtastic Runs (1/01-Present) 35.18 Miles
Total YTD Mileage 35.18 Miles

Miles Left Until 2016 Goal (350 Miles): 314.82

I’m going to end on this photo of our dining room table Sunday night just because it looks cool. In an attempt to help Erin with her health goals (and to push me to eat cleaner) we’re going full-on lunch meal prep party on Sundays. Meal prep and chill, anyone?