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Health & Wellness

Cheat Meals: Old School Tool or Progress Saboteur



  To be lean, strong, & healthy we must fuel our bodies with a specific amount of nutritious foods consistently.  However, this doesn’t mean we must permanently remove our favorite foods from our diet. 

Although the concept of the cheat meal is a tad dated, there are benefits to having structured breaks in your nutrition.  Education drives compliance & below, we will cover what a cheat meal is, some of the drawbacks, & alternative strategies.  

It’s okay to enjoy your food, but there is a better way to think about this concept without sabotaging your mindset or progress.

Defining A Cheat Meal

The term “cheat meal” has been thrown around quite often in the nutrition space for years.  Coaches use this term (even I am guilty of this), social media influencers, athletes, & even current & prospective clients ask me about cheat meals.  

A cheat meal is a meal or a day where you “let loose” nutrition-wise.  These cheats are essentially an opportunity to eat whatever you want in unlimited quantities, with the knowledge that you HAVE to get back on track when the cheat is over.  In the past, cheat meals were thought to help “boost” or “trick” metabolism, decrease stress hormones, give a mental reset, & help the client retain muscle while in a deficit phase.  

In theory, this SEEMS like an excellent concept; you get to enjoy the foods you LOVE with a few added benefits when you return to the plan. 

To be 💯, it’s not that simple.


The Drawbacks

It’s no secret that being in a long-term calorie deficit (on a diet) is more mentally demanding than anything.  So it should be no surprise that most of the drawbacks post cheat meal are mental as well.  

The idea is that allowing a cheat meal to break up the monotony of the diet cycle will help with long-term motivation & cravings.  The problem with this theory is that we are human, the NEED for the cheat meal in the first place is the exact reason why this concept doesn’t work the majority of the time.  

  • Promotes “good” vs. “bad” food mentality. 
    When deciding what foods we typically want to have for our cheat day, we usually choose foods that we aren’t able to eat on a “good” day.  So we choose foods for our cheat & label them “bad”, & by association, when we eat these foods in the future we are “bad”.  Seeing yourself as “bad” because of a food choice takes away from all of the healthy choices you’ve made & makes adherence harder.
  • Creates an “All-or-Nothing” mindset.
    You messed up so you give yourself permission to continue to mess up.  Once you have your “bad” meal for the day it’s easy to say “screw it” & spiral down from there.  Leaving you feeling miserable & guilty, in a shameful cycle.
  • Hard to get back on track.
    Eating sugary & processed foods tends to leave us wanting more.  The more off-track you typically get with your cheat meal, the harder it usually is to get back on track.
  • The drastic increase in calorie intake slows progression.
    An old-school cheat meal can set you back literally thousands of calories.  Going too far overboard can cut into your deficit each week & set you back on your progress toward your goals, slowing your fat loss & leaving you frustrated.
  • Leads to binge eating.
    This is somewhat an extension of the All-or-Nothing mindset.  When “allowed” to eat any & everything in a given time period it is very easy to eat past satiety.  Knowing that this “good” food is going to come to an end makes it really hard to stop when satisfied.  This creates a feeling of anxiety & the need to get in as much as possible before it is over.  This NEED to overindulge to fit in ALL we want in a short time creates a disordered eating cycle, keeps us from paying attention to our hunger cues

Any & all of these can be detrimental to your mentality around health & nutrition, & unfortunately, most of the time more than 1 of these comes into play at once.

Thankfully, cheat meals aren’t the only option & there are alternative strategies to adding flexibility to your nutrition. 


Alternative Strategies

Cheat meals are one of the most well-known dieting strategies, but can be a little old school.  Nowadays, there are more beneficial approaches that will allow for a flexible, sustainable, & enjoyable dieting experience. 



Diet Break

Diet breaks are a part of the nutritional periodization process.  Periodizing the nutrition process allows us to schedule our diet around holidays, birthdays, vacations, etc., it ensures we are continuously making progress & not hitting a plateau.  Taking a diet break can mean you back away from tracking altogether or increasing calories & continuing to track.   

Diet breaks are short periods of 1-2 weeks where calories are increased & restrictions are somewhat loosened.  These are different than a reverse diet because we are jumping straight back to maintenance calories with the intention of cutting back after a set time to continue progressing towards our goals.  Periodizing your nutrition & scheduling planned diet breaks is the most sustainable & effective way to approach any physique or long-term physical goal.

The frequency of a diet break depends on the individual  & their goals.  Diet breaks typically follow 12 or so weeks of consistent dieting (meaning being in a deficit) & I like to schedule my diet breaks to make life easier.  I reserve diet breaks for holidays & birthdays so that life is a bit more enjoyable.  


A refeed is a brief period where calories are taken slightly above maintenance.  Protein intake typically stays the same, while the increase in calories comes from carbohydrates. Refeeds can be considered a more “controlled” version of a cheat day. Calories for refeeds are planned in advance & tailored to the individual’s personal & training schedule. Unlike cheat days, it is important to be aware of the calories you are consuming & to focus on food quality. Refeeds can vary from person to person, but the main goal is to consume a controlled surplus of calories.



Moderation & Macros

This is typically the “If it fits your macros approach”.  Moderation helps break the All-or-nothing cycle, you incorporate foods you enjoy while maintaining awareness of the quality of the rest of your diet.  It allows us to satisfy cravings without overindulging or sabotaging progress.  This is an approach I like to take with clients who have dealt with disordered eating in the past, or for clients who are new to nutrition coaching.  For individuals who take this approach, I recommend hitting a minimum protein & fiber goal as well as a maximum calorie goal for the day.  

Wrap Up

As with any physique goal, remaining consistent with your nutrition & calorie intake is still the most effective diet approach.  Implementing a strategy that helps you incorporate foods you love, whether that be on a daily basis (fit it in your macros), a planned diet break or a controlled refeed, will help to offset the monotony of the diet & make this process easier to adhere to.

Remember, this should be a sustainable lifestyle.  If you are always looking forward to your next cheat meal, that is not an enjoyable or sustainable way to live (trust me, I’ve been there).  

Eating “off plan” is a part of life, but there is a much better way to think about this concept without sabotaging your mindset or progress.  Instead of thinking of it as a cheat, think of it as a way to enjoy your food & still reach your fitness goals.


Thanks for reading!

It can be more difficult to make decisions about your own health & fitness because you are emotionally invested in the outcome. This is one of the reasons 1-1 nutrition coaching is so effective. A coach can provide you with unbiased advice & support, help you stay on track with your goals by providing accountability, & help you succeed in the long run by providing you with tools & education.
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Health & Wellness

The Benefits of Semi-Private Personal Training: The Ultimate Training Experience



Personal training has a long history, dating back thousands of years, and was originally developed to prepare athletes for the Olympics and armies for battle. It wasn’t until the early 19th century that the first commercial gym emerged, even then, training was primarily aimed at athletes & the newly popular bodybuilders.

Over time, education in physical fitness and athletic development became more popular, and personal training as we know it today began. Hiring a trainer was no longer just reserved for athletes or the military but for anyone looking to make physical changes in their lives.  As personal training continued to evolve, it eventually became a luxury, which led to the popularity of group fitness classes.

However, these classes were not personalized enough to cater to each individual, so there was a need for a third option: semi-private training. Semi-private personal training combines the benefits of one-on-one training and group fitness classes, without the limitations of either.

Understanding Semi-Private Personal Training

Before diving into the benefits of the semi-private training model, we need to cover what it is & how it differs from 1-1 & traditional group fitness classes.  During a semi-private session, a personal trainer coaches a group of 2-6 clients at once, leading them through a workout.  These sessions are similar to a cross between private (1-1) sessions & small group fitness classes.  Like most small group fitness classes, each client enters at their own fitness level.  The goals of each client in that class are usually similar so the coach can create the programs in advance, similar to private training.  This differs from the traditional small-group fitness class because even though the goals of each client are similar, no one client is exactly the same so exercise subs may be needed.

Semi-private personal training gives us the benefits of 1-1 sessions, plus the beneficial parts of a group fitness class, without the drawbacks!

Benefits of Semi-Private Training

Although there is always a time when the 1-1 coaching model is preferred, in general, the benefits of the semi-private personal training model outweigh those of both private & small group fitness classes.


Affordability & Value

Semi-private personal training offers a number of advantages, the most significant of which is the value & cost. As this type of training involves a smaller group, the cost of semi-private sessions is much more affordable than private sessions. For instance, a private coaching session with me costs around $50 per session, whereas a semi-private session would be around $25 per session. This is beneficial for both the client & the coach. Your coach can provide their services at a rate that is much more affordable for you, while helping more people at the same time, which is also beneficial for them. In order to run these sessions efficiently, the coach must be experienced & confident, so you can rest assured that you are getting high-quality coaching at a price that you can maintain over the long term.

Personalized Attention

Because the semi-private class offers a more intimate setting (similar to a 1-1 experience), your trainer can easily give exercise subs to suit your current level or to work around injuries or ailments! With group fitness classes the workouts are done all together & subs are difficult to make, but not with semi-private.  Your coach can give you exercises that are progressions of the ones on the program if you are more advanced, or regressions if you are injured or just not to that level yet!  Your coach also has the ability to add exercises as they see fit during the workout.  Either way with the semi-private model you get the personalized attention you need & deserve.

Motivation and Accountability

Another HUGE benefit of the semi-private personal training model is the community aspect.

To be honest this is the aspect of this model that has made me fall in love.  When you sign up for semi-private training sessions your coach will determine what group suits you best based on your goals & commonalities with other members.  Clients are more apt to show up & put in work when there are others around them who have the same struggles & the same goals.  You receive motivation from peers during class to push through each exercise & watching others around you will inspire you to push as well.  Together you & the other members of the class can share the difficulties of your day as you push through a strenuous workout.  On this journey to create a better version of YOU, you will also develop friendships & bonds that last beyond the class setting!

Variety in Workouts

As stated before, clients in a semi-private personal training session have SIMILAR but not EXACTLY the same goals.  This means the trainer needs to create diverse exercise routines to keep things fresh.  Diversifying the training program means incorporating different training modalities for optimal results & since the groups are smaller & not large, this is 100 percent doable.  The trainer will be able to use a variety of different machines & pieces of equipment without worrying about running out of space or equipment.  This leaves room for tons of variety & less boredom or chance of plateau!



Wrap Up

Fitness trends will come & go as they have since the 19th century, but I do believe this model has made its mark on the fitness industry & will remain around.  Semi-private personal training allows us to receive ALL of the beneficial parts of group fitness; community, accountability, & affordability, along with the added benefits we receive from private coaching.  Hiring a trainer is no longer a service reserved for athletes, anyone who is considering hiring a coach should explore the semi-private training model & experience the life-changing benefits for themselves.  Friendships & GAINZ will both be made!

Semi-private training is a great way to get the best of both worlds: the personalized attention of one-on-one training & the camaraderie & motivation of group fitness. In a semi-private setting, you’ll have the opportunity to work with a qualified trainer who can create a customized workout plan that meets your individual needs. You’ll also have the chance to connect with other like-minded individuals who are working towards their own fitness goals. 

If you’re looking for a fun, challenging, & supportive way to get in shape, semi-private training is a great option.

So what are you waiting for? Give semi-private training a try today!

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Health & Wellness

Athlete For Life Series Workout Breakdown: The Warm-up



Doesn’t it seem like the things we need most in life are oftentimes the hardest to make time for?

As we age, remaining active is increasingly important if you want to maintain an excellent quality of life.   If we are being honest, between our kids, spouse, extended family, jobs, & obligations elsewhere, it is often hard to find to exercise or get active.  Even when we do finally find time, it is EXTREMELY tempting to skip the warm-up & get straight to lifting.  Skipping warm-ups not only leads to injury in the short term but also hinders us in the future as well.

Warming up before your workout increases flexibility, range of motion, & blood flow (which helps shuttle nutrients & oxygen), decreases muscle tension & pain, prepares & loosens muscles to be worked, & ultimately boosts your performance & maximizes your workout.  

Although it can be tempting to skip, be mindful of your aging body.  Implement a proper dynamic stretch & mobility routine, your warm-up can help you maximize both your workout & your long-term results.


Stretching is old news.  We’ve been told stretching improves our range of motion & mobility & helps reduce the risk of injury prior to performing or working out.  However, the methods we use for stretching before working out are just as important as the warm-up itself.

There are two types of stretching; 

  • Static stretching – holding a set position
  • Dynamic stretching – moving the muscles through their full range of motion

Static stretching is probably the most well-known style of stretching.  This is what we did growing up in PE.  Bend down, touch your toes, hold, & then move on to the next static stretch.  Static stretching is great for tension in your muscles, increasing flexibility & mobility & elongating the muscles.  However, it’s not necessarily the best method for our warm-up.  

Dynamic stretching involves MOVEMENT through a full range of motion.  Since this type of stretching requires movement, you are literally warming up by generating heat & getting your blood pumping.  With dynamic stretching, I not only like to target the muscles that will be worked in the upcoming workout, but I also like to target opposing muscle groups.  Targeting the primary muscles has its obvious benefits, but by firing up opposing muscle groups, you allow yourself to engage your primary muscles more!

Some of my favorite dynamic stretches include:

  • Pike to Squat
  • Downward Dog to Cobra
  • Lateral Lunges

Choose a few different stretches that you really like for each body part & start working them into the beginning of your workout routine.  Incorporate 3-5 dynamic stretches & perform each movement for 20-30 seconds, typically in a certain fashion for optimal workout performance.


An effective warm-up wouldn’t be complete without some mobility work thrown in.  

Mobility exercises are geared towards training your range of motion around joints. This work involves actively moving, contracting & relaxing muscles through the joint’s range of motion.  Mobility exercises can include single or multi-joint movement patterns & are usually done with body weight or bands.  Good mobility doesn’t just mean flexibility.  It means that your range of motion is smooth, & you are more resilient against injury, & you’ll be able to recruit the most muscle for each exercise.

 Some of my favorite mobility exercises I use are:

  • Mini Band Overhead Reach
  • ½ Kneeling Banded Facepull
  • Active Frog

Start by adding 2-4 mobility exercises to your warm-up routine & try to gradually increase your range of motion.  Perform 2-3 sets of each of your mobility exercises for a given amount of reps or time.  Make sure to change these exercises out every 3-4 weeks so your body can continue to adapt & improve.

Wrap Up

As tempting as it is to skip or rush through your warm-up, remember there are short & long-term benefits you are missing out on.  Immediate benefits are mainly performanced based, along with increased blood flow (which means more oxygen & nutrients) & long-term benefits range from better stability & balance to decreased pain & increased range of motion & overall a better quality of life.


Structuring warm-ups in a circuit format usually keeps them both movement & time-efficient.  Performing standing work first, then go to the floor for your floor exercises.  Try flowing from one movement to the next with little to no rest.  Your warm-up should not be strenuous or time-consuming & should leave you mentally & physicaly prepped to lift.  Ideally, you should be able to complete a sufficient warm-up in less than 10 minutes.


Sample Full Body Warm-up:
Perform each exercise for 15-20 seconds. Rest long enough only to move to the next exercise. 
Repeat for 2 rounds.

  • World’s greatest stretch (both sides)
  • Thread the needle (both sides)
  • Frog stretch
  • Cobra
  • Lean back shoulder & quad stretch
  • Superman

Mobility & dynamic stretching are both a MUST if you wanna get strong, perform well in workouts, & continue to feel great as you age.

Tired of putting in the work & not getting the results you want?  

Maybe you need accountability.  Maybe the food you are eating isn’t working with your training in the gym.  Maybe your recovery needs work.

Contact me for coaching.  After talking we will decide the first steps to take in making sure your nutrition & training programs are working together, to get you the results you deserve.  We will make sure the training program you are on fits your schedule & you’ll be given actual tasks & habits to take care of weekly that will create awareness, educate you, & guide your new lifestyle.

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Health & Wellness

Undervalued Habits To Improve Your Life



“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

— Aristotle


Roughly 40 percent of our daily actions are not actual decisions, but habits.  Habits can include; buying the same brands at the grocery store, working out on the same days & times each week, or even the way we cut & eat our food.  We even develop bad habits over time like drinking too often, smoking, or cussing… (whoops on that last one).

Habits are formed when behaviors become automatic & are performed with little or no conscious awareness. According to experts the behavioral patterns we repeat most often are literally carved into our neural pathways. 

BUT… We can use this knowledge to our advantage!

By being INTENTIONAL & practicing behaviors we WANT repeatedly they will eventually become automatic, & by doing this we can literally shape our lives!  This can help us to take our health, our relationships, & our overall quality of life to the next level!

Time Block

Time blocking is a time management technique that is EXCELLENT for increasing productivity.  Time blocking is making time to plan ahead for the month, week, & day(s) to come.  It divides your day into smaller blocks of time, & each block is dedicated to completing a specific task or group of tasks. 



Unlike a to-do list, time blocking not only tells you what to do but when to do it. It’s kind of like combining your calendar & to-list.  


The way you time block is 100% up to you.  I like to break my time blocks up into monthly, weekly, & daily tasks.  I figure out the most important tasks I need to complete first & then go ahead & add these things to my journal as well as my phone’s calendar.    


Examples of my time blocks  include:

  • Groceries
  • Meal & snack prep
  • Tentative workout schedule
  • Evening reflection
  • Meetings
  • Client calls
  • Practices/Class
  • Games (kids)


Stay Hydrated

Drinking water & staying hydrated can seem like such a minute task, but it is VERY often overlooked.  Water helps to flush toxins, carry & transport nutrients, lubricate skin & joints, increase our natural energy & so much more!  


Being more mindful of your water intake is the first step in making hydration a habit.  Try to start ordering water when out to eat & get a jug or thermos you can bring around with you.  


Tips for making hydration a habit:

  • Drink a large glass of water immediately upon waking up
  • Add sliced fruit to your water throughout the day
  • Set alarms on your phone to remind you to drink


Daily Movement

We are made to move!!  We have a physical & psychological need to be active & our bodies & minds work best when we are.  Movement helps train & improve the musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, & nervous systems.  More specific things movement helps with include:

  • Healthy joints
  • Strong bones
  • Physical strength
  • Good circulation
  • Improved learning skills and concentration
  • Mental well-being
  • Lower blood pressure

Daily movement for simply improving the quality of your life doesn’t have to mean strenuous exercise or a strict routine (but it can be 😀).  Movement can be as simple as a walk or scheduled play time outside with your kids or pets, or even a stretching & mobility routine.  


Daily movement looks different for everyone, figure out what you like to do & what works for you & do it consistently enough to make it a habit!



Rise First

The best part of rising first in the morning is the quietness.  You are up before the chaos of kids arguing, & the drawers & dishes slamming around.  Creating quiet time for yourself first thing in the morning allows you to set the tone for the day.  It gives you time & space to reflect on your needs for the day, to reflect on yesterday, & to think about what you can be for others.  


Rising before my family allows me to fully focus on ME!  It allows me time to be selfish without feeling guilty.  It has also given me more confidence in myself because I am showing up & showing myself I am worth waking up early for!  Quiet time in the morning is when I do all of my journaling & time blocking for the day.  


Find Gratitude

This was left last for a purpose.  Finding gratitude is not something that should solely be reserved for a morning routine.  Slowing down during your day & making your mind shift into finding the good in everyday moments is a habit that is truly life-changing.


Finding gratitude for me was hard at first. I found myself writing & thinking the same things repetitively, but after a while, I started to notice that the smaller things in life popped into my mind.  I became more thankful for the SMALL things my kids said to me instead of just writing down “I am grateful for my kids”.  I notice more of the smaller actions of love my wife shows me & I noticed during the day my mind was a lot less negative & a lot more lighter!  


Once gratitude has become a habit you will be able to find gratitude in your work & in situations that are difficult.  Gratitude is like a seed, if you stay consistent & water it, it will grow & flourish in your life.



The more consistently we do something, the more likely it is that we will continue to do it in the future. This is because our brains are constantly learning & adapting, & the more we practice something, the stronger the neural pathways associated with that behavior become.  By being intentional about the behaviors we practice, we can shape & improve the quality of our lives.  Life-improving habits are going to be different for everyone, choose to work on behaviors that add value to your life & move you toward your future goals.

First, decide on what habits will move you towards your goals & add value to YOU!  Once you decide on your new habits, find ways to hold yourself accountable & check in.  Lastly, create rewards & milestones for yourself & never stop working to master your habits. 


Remember, change in general can be extremely hard, & accountability plays a MAJOR role in habit change!  Be patient with yourself & find an accountability partner.  Coaching with me includes habit change so if goal setting or accountability is something you struggle with please feel free to reach out for coaching.  

Text (409)748-0581 to set up your Initial Transformation Session to see if you are a good fit for coaching.

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