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Back At It: Postpartum

Back At It: Postpartum

ppworkoutsI recently gave birth to my third child; another son, named Landon.

I had set high goals for myself following his birth and intended to get back into my regular workouts, meal planning, and recording my progress here on the site for accountability.

I wanted to create a follow-along program to share my progress with all of you and provide you with new workouts and meal plans so that you could join me.

My son is now 11 weeks old and while I have gotten in some workouts, I have not been nearly as on track with my goals as I was hoping.

It has been awhile since I had a baby, (my next oldest is nearly 7) and I was not as active following her birth as I have been in more recent years. I also did not have two older children who needed to be driven to school and after-school activities, help with homework, and everything else, so I really had no idea just how challenging it would be.

I now realize my goals need a bit of revision. My focus now needs to be on finding a healthy balance that allows me to get in workouts and eat in a way that lets me feel good, rebuild my strength, and have the energy I need to care for my family and home.


I need to give myself more time to accomplish my body goals so that I can focus on what is most important right now: nourishing my family, relieving stress, and living a balanced healthy lifestyle.

My hope is to get back into some sort of routine with my fitness that allows me to build momentum since it is much easier to maintain an active lifestyle once you get started and do it regularly.

So instead of trying to follow a strict workout schedule or to begin a program that requires me to spend 60 minutes or more to complete a workout, I am going to try something a bit more flexible.

What is important to me personally is:

  • building strength (especially core strength)
  • improving flexibility
  • increasing energy
  • maintaining positive health (mental and physical)
  • feeling good overall


To accomplish those goals I plan to do the following:

  • resistance training workouts using bodyweight and/or free weights
  • regular yoga practice
  • going for walks/jogging
  • getting adequate rest and sleep
  • eating healthy, clean meals made from whole foods

I would like to share my journey with you and plan to post whenever I can about my workouts, meal plans, grocery lists and more. I will post here as much as I can but you can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram for updates there as well.

In Health,


5 Steps to Lose Weight in Less Time and Keep it Off


5 Steps to Lose Weight in Less Time and Keep it Off


Are You Tired of Trying Miracle Diets and Working Out for Hours at a Time All With Little Pay Off and Lost Pounds that Somehow Seem to Keep Coming Back?

If you have been trying again and again to lose the extra pounds that crept on while you were busy with the demands of life only to experience little success and much frustration, you are not alone and it’s not your fault.

We have been taught to believe that in order to gain the body that we want we have to make extreme changes to our diets and spend hours in the gym working out in order to see results.

1-16470175_mlWe see celebrities in magazines promoting extreme diets and exercise regimens that take a ton of time. They pay top dollar for high-priced trainers and sacrifice a lot in order to obtain their Hollywood physiques.

Social media is filled with young fitness models Instagramming photos of their salads and supplements, and selfies of yet another day spent at the gym.

Many diets require you to make extreme changes to your normal routine that are often strange, time-consuming, and leave you feeling deprived and unsatisfied.

Popular weight loss programs require hours of grueling workouts that leave you drenched in sweat and too sore to climb a flight of stairs at work the next day.

While many of these protocols will work to give you transformative results if you stick with them, they are simply too demanding of your time, and require too much energy to be sustainable.

Even if you are able to stick with them long enough to obtain weight loss results, as soon as you stop and return to your normal eating habits and less active lifestyle all the weight comes right back. It’s a vicious cycle and no wonder so many people give up on their dreams of getting back into shape in their late 20’s and 30’s.

Life is busy and as an adult with responsibilities such as a career, spouse, and kids, it gets even crazier. At times it feels impossible to accomplish everything that needs to be done each day and still find the time to sleep, let alone exercise.

I am here to tell you it doesn’t have to be this hard and there is another way to meet your day-to-day responsibilities and still have the body you deserve.

So how can you lose pounds that stay gone and achieve the body of your dreams without sacrificing the foods you love or spending all your free time working out?

Here are:

5 Steps You Can Take to Lose Weight In Less Time and Keep it Off


1. Create a plan, prepare, and stick to it.1-20236924_ml

As adults, most of us have learned that in order to succeed at almost anything in life, we need to have a plan and we must prepare for all the things that could get in the way of us reaching our goals.

The same is true for weight loss. You need to set a goal, have a plan on how to reach it, prepare for implementation, and finally execute your plan.

Without a plan you will likely spend more of your time at the gym trying to figure out what to do and less time actually doing it.

Without a plan you will intend to eat healthy meals, but once you find yourself hungry and no healthy options prepared, will end up at a fast food drive through.

Having a plan for weight loss is like having a map and directions to get to your desired destination. Without it you end up just driving around in circles and never getting where you are trying to go.


2. Simplify Your Diet.

You ever heard the saying “too much, too soon”? This is especially applicable to people when dieting. When we first start out trying to lose weight we tend to get all gung-ho and cut out everything all at once.

But the reality is you can only survive on lemon juice and lettuce for so long before your body’s nutritional needs catch up to you. By depriving yourself completely, you are setting yourself up for a vicious cycle of cravings that will eventually overwhelm your will power and can lead to binge-eating that completely sabotages your efforts.


Simplify the foods you eat by cutting out processed foods and eliminating high-calorie condiments. Instead focus on the flavors of fresh foods and meats by seasoning with sea salt and pepper, fresh herbs and spices, or low-calorie dry rubs. Opt for grilling and roasting foods which brings out more of their natural flavors.

Instead of extreme dieting, work on simplifying your diet, making only minor changes a little at a time. You won’t see big results on the scale as quickly, but the changes you make to your eating habits will be ones you can live with and ones that over time make a big difference.

3. Maximize Your Workouts.

When you are very busy and only have 20-30 minutes a day to devote to exercise if you are lucky, you really need to maximize the time you spend working out. You don’t have the luxury of spending an hour a week on each body part so you need to focus on workouts that allow you to work the most muscles at once in the most effective way.

Circuit Training workouts and HIIT sessions will give you the greatest results in the shortest times. Workouts that utilize compound exercises and supersetting are also great for targeting more muscle groups in less time.



Having a workout plan is especially helpful to saving time as knowing exactly what to do allows you to jump right into your workout and not waste precious time.

Writing down the exercises, the number of reps and how much weight you use will help you plan out your next workout and track your results.

Work out at a high intensity and use heavy weights. Doing a ton of reps with light weights will have some cardio benefits, but if you are looking for physical changes that you can see, resistance training that challenges your muscles will give you greater results.

4. Get Enough Rest, and More Sleep.

Working out for too long, not resting enough between sets, or working the same muscles day after day, are all ways to sabotage your efforts. If you are constantly breaking down muscle with your workouts and not giving your body adequate time to recover and rebuild, then you will not see the results you desire.

Rest days are just as important to building the body you want as workout days. You should not work the same muscle group two days in a row so either rotate which muscle group you target each day, or if you are doing full-body workouts such as circuits, be sure to take rest days between workout days. It is okay to perform light cardio on your rest days, but don’t exert too much energy.

Getting enough sleep is critical to your recovery as this is when your body repairs itself. Also, sleeping revitalizes you and provides you the energy you need to workout at the greatest intensity. If you are sleepy, you will lack energy and focus and your performance in all areas of your life will suffer.

If you even find the strength to get in your workouts, they will be less than optimal. It is better to get enough rest and have a great short workout, then to skip out on sleep and give a partial effort for a longer workout.

5. Rinse and Repeat. Consistency is Key.

Implementing a new diet and exercise regimen is fun and exciting. It is easy to stay motivated when you are first starting out and seeing results. But the key to realizing long-term success in your weight loss goals is not all-out intensity for a few short weeks, but rather a steady consistency and creating new healthier habits for the long haul.

This is why it is so crucial to find a balance between your diet and exercise and your everyday life. You have to make changes that you can sustain and not make sacrifices that you aren’t willing to live with.


Finding ways to stay motivated is also important to experiencing success long-term so we recommended setting new short term goals for yourself that you can continue working for.

With each “win” you will be motivated to set and accomplish another goal and another. The closer you get to your goal, the easier it will become and eventually you won’t have to practice being consistent because exercising and eating better will have become a part of your normal lifestyle and daily habits.

Once you reach your goals and obtain the body you always dreamed of you will find that maintaining your newfound shape is much less difficult than the journey getting there was.

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How to Get A Bigger Chest and Arms

How to Get A Bigger Chest and Arms

It’s easy to get envious of the guys you see with a large and muscular upper body and you may find yourself asking “How can I look like that?”

get a bigger chest and arms
Well there are two basic truths that first need to be understood before we can get into the answer of how to get a bigger chest and arms.


  • First, know that achieving a bigger chest and arms will require a lot of hard work and dedication both in the gym and in the kitchen.

  • Second, understand that many of the guys you see with the figure you are after have been genetically gifted with a larger chest and arms. While you can achieve a more muscular frame than you currently possess, you will still only be able to get larger muscles for YOUR body type.

So, while you may never be as large as that hulking giant in the gym, you will be able to look damn good and be stronger than you have ever been if you commit to doing the work and follow the advice I am providing below.

Going back to the first point, it will take hard work both in lifting and nutrition to get a bigger chest and arms. I’m not going to get into all of the specific lifts that should be done in order to bulk up your muscles. I am simply going to focus on the aspects that will make or break you while completing a muscle building program and what to do to reach your full potential for muscular growth and attaining the body you desire.

(If you are looking for a detailed workout plan to follow to achieve your muscle building goals, we recommend our 12-Week Big Muscle program. Get a free week or become a member and gain instant access to the program.)

Now, for some tips on how to get a bigger chest and arms:

 1. Eat to grow. In order for your muscles to grow, you need to feed them. That means you need to be in      weight gain mode. It only makes sense that since you are trying to gain mass (muscle) you want to gain      weight.

     (On a side note, if you still have plenty of fat to lose, I recommend taking care of that first. That is the      quickest way to make your muscles look bigger and more defined. Check out our fat loss programs for      help with that.)

measure out portions

     In order to know how much food is enough to fuel the growth of your muscles without piling on      unwanted fat, you must know your daily caloric needs and eat to fulfill them without going overboard.

     You can use our Calorie Calculator to find out your daily caloric needs (how much to eat). Simply input      the required information and select your goal (Build Muscle) and the calculator will give you a good      estimate of the number of calories it needs in order to add muscle mass.

     Our calculator will calculate your daily maintenance needs and then will automatically add an additional      500 calories to that number which is what is recommended when aiming to gain muscle mass. In      addition to the 500 calorie surplus to fuel growth, you are going to need to also eat back the calories      that you burn during your workouts.

     For example:

       John’s daily calorie needs before working out is 2000 calories.

       John burns 300 calories during his workout

       John then needs to add the calories he burned in his workout plus 500 calories to fuel his muscles

       2000+300+500= 2800 calories

       John needs to eat 2800 calories to increase in size today.

     *** A great way to track calories is by using the website or app.

     By implementing the above concept, you should steadily increase both your body weight (about one lb      of muscle a week) and your strength.

track your weights
 2. Monitor and track your weights and reps for each workout. When trying to gain muscle mass, the only      way to know if you are eating enough and resting enough is if you track your progress. If you reach a      “plateau” and can’t increase your weight or reps, it generally indicates that you are either working too      hard (too many days or too many sets for a given muscle group) or you are not eating enough.

     If you feel overly fatigued during your workout, try taking an extra day of rest between muscle groups or      increase your rest times between sets. If a 500 calorie increase is not getting you the results it should      be, bump it up another 250-500 calories a day and see if that improves your workouts.

 3. Lift heavy. And by heavy I mean that you should not be able to complete more than 5 or 6 reps of an      exercise in each set. Grab a partner since you will be working hard and will require a spotter.

     Stick to a low rep range (4-6 reps) per set and focus on maintaining proper form for each rep over      quantity. If you can only get in 4 reps using proper form, that is better than attempting to crank out 6      sloppy reps and risking an injury.


proper form

 4. Larger muscle groups such as chest and back need only a handful of sets each workout.  Arms need even      less sets.

     Recommended number of sets:

       Chest - 6 sets

       Back - 8 sets

       Biceps - 3 sets

       Triceps - 5 sets

     Everyone is different but this is a great starting guideline to ensure progress. (Once again, if you are      looking for an exact workout plan designed to maximize lifts and rest schedules, check out our Big      Muscle Workout.)

 5. Lastly, be patient and consistent. This will not happen overnight but you will see progress consistently      if you stay disciplined and strictly monitor your nutrition and lifting schedule. Also, remember that      progress is usually more dramatic in the beginning and will taper off to smaller less immediately      noticeable changes as you get further along in your program.

     If you stop progressing and you are nowhere near your goal, revisit the first two tips. Those are generally      the reasons for a lack of progression and even minor discrepancies in your tracking each day can really      add up, especially as you get closer to your goal. No matter what don’t give up because the work you put      in now will get you the results you desire, even if they feel out of reach from time to time.

10 Things I Wish I Had Known Before My First Mud Run


10 Things I Wish I Had Known Before My First Mud Run

My first mud run was an absolute blast, even though it was really long, cold, and much more physically challenging than I had imagined. Considering that we opted for one of the longest and most difficult runs for our first time out, preparing just a bit more would have saved a bit of pain and made the event even better.

First Mud Run

While the experience was awesome enough to have me coming back for more, if I had the chance to do it over again there are some things I would have done differently. So, to save you the trouble for your first mud run, I have compiled the following list of 10 Things I Wish I Had Known Before My First Mud Run.

  • Plan to arrive well before your start time. These events get CROWDED and are often challenging to find. Parking may be a ways away from the starting line and once you are there you will have to wait in line to check in.
    Arriving early ensures you have time to find the race, park, take pictures, and warm up a bit before your wave begins. Stressing about missing your start time because you didn't allow time for getting lost or forgetting something and having to run back to your car is not a great way to start off what should be a really awesome day.

  • Have an understanding of the obstacles you will face and how to tackle them prior to attempting. Many races will outline exactly what obstacles you will see at your event and you can train specifically for them. Others are left a surprise.
    In this case, spend a few minutes observing how other runners are successfully completing obstacles and follow suit. Don't be afraid to challenge yourself and try obstacles that are new for you, but if an obstacle appears overly dangerous, or you simply don't feel comfortable attempting it, skip it.
    These events while meant to be a challenge are also intended to be fun and leaving early due to an injury is a sure way to ruin your first mud run experience.

    Need a training plan for your first mud run?
    Get a free week of our Total Mud Run Training Guide.
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  • Incorporate hill training and running on uneven terrain into your training program.
    Running 3 miles up the side of a mountain or across rocky terrain is much more difficult than running a 5K on nice even pavement.
    Even if you don't intend to run the entire mud run, you should be well trained to cover more than the total distance of the event you are taking part in.
    Otherwise you may find yourself gassed out and unable to complete your obstacle race, or worse, find yourself injured from trying to push yourself to do something your body is unprepared for.

  • Wet monkey bars are much more difficult to get across than the dry ones at your neighborhood park.
    1-ellismudrun8You will also face bars that are muddy or even buttered and many of these obstacles will have you climbing up and down angled bars as opposed to straight across.
    Using a reverse grip (with palms facing you) to grab the next bar can help reduce the chance of your fingers slipping off the slick surface. "Pedaling" your legs as opposed to swinging them can also reduce the slip factor.
    Polishing up on your grip strength and pull-up strength in general will increase the likelihood of making it all the way across without falling into the muddy pit below.

  • Gloves are great for protecting your hands from sharp rocks, splintering walls, and blisters.
    But the wrong gloves will get caked with mud and are extra slippery when wet. If you bring gloves for your race, you will likely want to remove and store them for most of the race until you need them.
    Fingerless workout gloves may seem like a good idea, but tend to get slippery once wet and aren’t really best for mud runs.
    This goes for pretty much any leather glove. You will want gloves that have grip even when wet.
    There are some gloves made specifically for mud run and obstacle course races available from popular athletic gear companies, but an inexpensive pair of textured gardening gloves work just as well and cost a lot less. Make sure to test out the gloves you plan to wear ahead of time for proper fit, ease of wearing and removal, and grip on wet, slippery objects.

  • Running in new shoes, or any new clothing items for that matter is a bad idea. Make sure that your race attire has been tested out and broken in during your training. You don't want to end up with unnecessary chafing or blisters that could otherwise have been avoided.

  • Cotton is the worst thing EVER for mud runs. Super absorbent, loses its shape when wet, and will get heavy and drag down during your run.
    Avoid cotton for any clothing items you plan to wear on race day and plan to wear tight-fitted wicking materials instead, similar to what triathletes wear.

  • Doing a mud run with friends is a lot of fun. 1-IMG_5378 (1)
    But a Big Team = Longer Time per Obstacle = Longer Overall Course Time.
    Be prepared if you plan to run with a large group and either aim for an earlier start time or choose a shorter distance if you don't want to be on the course all day long.

  • Bring along a friend or family member who just wants to watch and have them take pictures for you.
    While most races have photographers, you are not guaranteed to find any pictures of yourself following your race.
    Spectators can set up along the course and get great action shots. They may also be willing to hold a bag with your stuff so you don't have to worry about wearing a pack or losing your keys in the mud.

  • Bring towels and plastic bags for after the race. Plan to be covered head-to-toe in mud. Put your muddy shoes and clothes in the plastic bags to keep your car from getting completely covered in mud.
    There are sometimes showers at the end of the race, but they are always crowded and usually cold. If you leave a jug of water and some towels in your car, you can quickly clean up and change. Then head back to the post-race party and enjoy the festivities.


Mud Runs and Obstacle Course Races are a great way to get active, get outdoors with friends, and have a great time challenging yourself. But being well prepared, planning ahead for what you will encounter, and being aware of your surroundings on race day will go a long way in keeping you safe and healthy for your first mud run.
For more tips and training check out our Total Mud Run Training Guide: Everything You Need to Prepare for Your First 5K or 10K Mud Run, accessible to all TWR Members. Or you can try out a free week of training from the book by signing up to receive our fitness newsletter.


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5 Common Mistakes That Sabotage Your Weight Loss Efforts

5 Common Mistakes That Sabotage Your Weight Loss Efforts


1-1-1-10109062_xlLosing weight is something that challenges many of us. In life, it is pretty easy to find ourselves gaining weight, especially when our schedules keep us so busy with work and play that we have a hard time fitting in healthy eating and exercise.

When we finally stop to see the results of our choices, we realize the need to make a change to improve our health and trim down our waist lines.

But if the process of gaining weight is so easy, why is it so difficult to put that process in reverse?

Losing weight should be simply a numbers game, but in reality, there are other factors that contribute to the speed and efficiency of how those numbers work for or against our efforts.

Here are 5 common mistakes that sabotage your weight loss efforts that you should avoid making:


  1.  Not Sleeping Enough. This is a big mistake. Being tired not only causes you to feel cranky and run down but it also reduces your energy levels and your workouts - if you can even manage to attempt them - will not be nearly as intense as if you are well rested.
    If you are working out at a lower level of intensity or for a shorter time period, than you will not be generating the same level of calorie-burn as you would at a higher intensity or performing for a greater length of time.
    If you are not burning as many calories in your workouts, that you have to further restrict your calorie intake in order to achieve the deficit you need for weight loss.
    This can leave you feeling even more drained and without the energy or drive to stick with your plan you will likely fall off long before reaching your weight loss goals.

  3. Working Out Too Much. I get it, working out is fun. You begin to feel energized by getting in a good workout and breaking a sweat. You will begin to crave the way a good workout makes you feel and it gets even better once you can see the results of your labor.
    5527987_mlBut the goal of a quality weight loss program is not simply to watch the number on the scale go down, but to make sure that the decrease you are seeing is from fat loss and not muscle breakdown.

    After all, muscle burns fat faster so if slimming down is your goal then you want to keep all the muscle you’ve got, and maybe even gain a little.

    In order to accomplish this you need a program that incorporates a balance between cardio and resistance training with the proper rest periods woven in.

    If you are working the same muscles under a high load on consecutive days then you are not giving those muscles adequate time to rest and recover. That means they do not have the opportunity to heal, and thus, grow.

    Make sure that your program allows adequate rest times between workouts so that you can experience the maximum benefits of all your hard work.

    For a good example of a workout schedule that allows adequate rest time between workouts check out this free week of workouts.


  5. Not Eating Enough. Though this may seem counter-intuitive when trying to lose weight, the reality is, if you are not eating enough food to fuel your day-to-day activities as well as your workouts then your weight loss will likely come to a halt.
    While it does take some time for your body to actually go into “starvation mode” and begin storing anything you eat as fat, the truth is that not properly fueling your body is a great way to slow down and otherwise damage your metabolism. This will make growing muscle and losing fat a much more difficult task.

    Creating a new metabolic environment is a much better way to lose body fat and sculpt the new figure you are looking for. You can do this by eating more and working out at a higher intensity, mixing up your workouts, or even cycling your meals differently.

    Whatever you choose to do to create this new environment, however, make sure that your total caloric intake is falling within the optimal range for fat burning without dropping so far that you are losing muscle (up to 500 calorie deficit a day.) The best and healthiest way to lose weight and change the way you look and feel is to make sure you are providing your body with the proper nutrition it needs. Find out your optimal calorie range


  7. Not Eating Enough of the Right Foods. While getting the right amount of calories for your needs is a very important factor in weight loss, what you eat to fulfill those needs is as important if not more so.
    Nutrition is not just about providing our body with calories to fuel energy expenditure, but also to provide it with the nutrients it needs to function optimally. All foods are not created equal, where your calories come from will have a massive effect on how you feel, how you perform, and how well you recover from your workouts as well.
    Take a look at the following example: An order of french fries contains roughly the same amount of calories as this chicken meal, however, the latter provides much more nutrients that your body needs.

    Sugar Detox Challenge6

    If you don't get enough of one nutrient in your diet than you may begin to suffer side effects from nutrient deficiency. You should be striving to get your daily calories from nutrient dense sources and aim for a specific balance of micronutrients that will assist in reaching your weight loss goals.
    For more detailed information about what you should be eating check out this podcast on Nutrition for Weight Loss.


  9. Not Sticking With It.When trying to lose weight many of us fail to stick with a program long enough to achieve lasting results. Developing new habits takes time, often much longer than we would like. But, once your new behaviors begin to feel like second-nature, maintaining the positive effects that those behaviors cause is much easier.
    Returning to old behaviors and bad habits will eventually lead you back to where you started and will cause frustration and likely make you want to give up. Focus on being consistent with your actions and practicing the new habits of your program regularly, even after beginning to see results. This will help you developing lasting habits which in turn will give you lasting results.

Fitness and weight loss can be a bit confusing with all the contradicting information that is floating around the web. It is important that whatever your fitness goals, you are making your health and well-being a priority.

I have found that the best plans for achieving weight loss that not only is realistic for day-to-day life but also sustainable in the long term, are those that help you find a balance between diet and exercise that can fit into your lifestyle. These programs will have you implement small changes slowly in order for you to make lasting positive habits that you can live with.


For many people the most difficult part of losing weight is learning how to plan their meals accordingly eating enough throughout their day to sustain their activity without eating too much.
We have created  a week-long meal plan that provides a great template you can follow to get started in your own meal planning. Each of the meals in the plan are around 300 calories, and the snacks range from 150-200.

(Note: The included plan is appropriate for someone who needs to net 1200-1500 calories a day in order to lose weight. If you require higher net calories adjust your portion sizes or eat more snacks to increase the daily calories. To find your daily calorie needs for your goals go here.)

To gain access to a free week of training and the fat loss meal plan, click the button below.

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