Lifestyle Challenge – Week 1 Reflection

Each week during our Gain Lifestyle Challenge I am going to do a summary, inspired by Cathy, about what I learned during the week.


I did a mediocre job training this week. Sunday was my first workout in over a week after having a stomach bug. So I took it easy and got some good reps of squats in. Monday was an off day, like it usually is. Tuesday I had a good training session since some friends stopped by Gain. Nothing crazy though, kept it light and focused on technique. Wednesday I took a new approach that I came up with while writing my last blog about reflections of 2015. It was a busy day and I wasn’t sure if I could get in a training session. During a break from coaching, I set a clock for 20 minutes and just moved for for the whole time. I spent most of it on the rower, and every 200-500m I hopped off and climbed the rope, did a handstand, some bodyweight squats or pull ups. Nothing fancy just 20 minutes of moving. Afterwards, I was happy that I did it.


I took Thursday off from training, but tried to accumulate pull ups throughout the day. Friday I pushed it hard because I was feeling good and did some heavy, high reps squats. I finished up Friday afternoon with some sprints while playing pond hockey, because why not?


Now, I only say that it was a mediocre week because my goal was to train every day. Even just 20 minute pieces here and there. Planning on doing better this week, but I’m off to a rocky start being 0-2.




I knocked it out of the park with my nutrition this week. I had a few goals that I was working towards simultaneously. While that’s not something I recommend, I was feeling motivated so I went for it. So far, so good. I haven’t had alcohol yet in the New Year, trying to make it the whole month (ok I may have had one beer while playing pond hockey, but I didn’t even realize it until the next day that I wasn’t supposed to, whoops).


I also started to eat 2 servings of some sort of fermented food each day. I did this by drinking a kombucha each day in the morning and having a serving of kimchi at lunch. I loved this and feel great. This will definitely stick as a habit.


Most of the time I don’t eat gluten. I had been slacking lately, due to an obsession with cookies,  so I locked it down for week 1 and was immediately reminded why I normally stay away from this. There is no doubt about it. I feel way better when I stay away.


The final nutrition thing I tried was replacing coffee with tea first thing in the morning. I’m all for coffee and there have been a lot of heath benefits proven from consumption. I just felt like near the end of the year I was running on fumes and was over doing it. I started the year off by going no coffee for a week. This was easy because for 4 days I couldn’t consume anything at all due to the stomach bug. After I felt better, I figured I should ride it out for a full week. Drinking tea in the morning is a nice change of pace. I feel like the caffeine in my yerba mate tea hits me a little differently and most days I don’t even reach for the coffee when I get to the gym. Another change that’s going to stick.




I did alright with hydration. There were some days that I slacked a little bit, but overall I was happy. The one day that I really missed the boat was Saturday. Going to focus a little more on water consumption this week.




Actually tracking how much sleep I got each night was really good for my awareness. I get up very early, which means early bed times. I stuck pretty strictly to a 9:30pm bed time this past week to make sure I got in 7 hours. Not ideal, but it’s what I can work with now. Having this awareness made me think a little more at night and forced me into bed. I got 7 hours all but one night where I stayed up until 10:00pm. Shooting for 7 for 7 this week.




I was happy with my mobility work this week. I’m usually religious about getting this in so this wasn’t a problem. Focus for week 2 is mobilizing things that I normally ignore.




I was happy with my cell phone usage this week. I always try to stay off of email, texts and social media until I get to the gym. I felt like I was slacking lately and getting lost scrolling through Instagram in the morning. I locked it down this week and wouldn’t touch my phone in the morning except to go over the schedule for the day and make sure that I had a podcast ready to go for my drive.


Staying off social media is an absolute game changer in terms of your mood. Staying off in the morning also makes it so I don’t really have the desire to go on as much throughout the day.


That’s it for this week. What changes have you noticed during the Lifestyle Challenge? What new habits did you pick up? Or have you learned anything new about yourself? Let me know in the comments!


Lifestyle Challenge – Week 1 Reflection

Changes I Made in 2015

That was the fastest year I have experienced. Each month and every single day flew past. I did lots of new and challenging things, accomplished some goals, missed others. It was a great year. Originally I was going to call this blog post “What I Learned in 2015”. After laying out the list and thinking it over, I realized it should be called “Changes I Made in 2015”. A more appropriate title because while I did learn a lot this year, all of the changes that I made (through learning new things) is what makes up the majority of this list. I hope that you can pick up something useful out of it as we head into 2016.


Cook meals ahead of time.

I was hard against this when figuring out new routines when Hannah and I moved in together. I didn’t want to spend all day Sunday essentially as what I viewed as a factory employee, piecing meals together one thing at a time. Luckily that’s not what it felt like at all. We have it down to a science, what used to take most of the day now takes about 2 hours.


We cook 8 lunches, 4 for me 4 for her and dinners for the week. While it took a lot of practice and creates so many dishes all at once – the rewards are worth it. I always know what I’m eating (usually the same thing, obviously easier). This forces me to eat healthy and nutritious meals throughout the week.  I know how they affect my body and how they make me feel. By being so rigid during the week, I relax more on the weekend. I can enjoy foods and not worry about it. It has also taught me to crave more nutritious, healthier meals. I know they make me feel better and I see the affects of a less nutritious meal. Still not giving up doughnuts anytime soon though.


If you’re interested in the more specifics of what and how we cook everything, let me know – it could make a good blog post.


Not having a strict workout routine.


I didn’t have a whole lot of time during the day to train this year. There were a few months that I locked in and trained really hard for the 4 weeks. There were also months that I probably only had single digit training sessions. About 6 months in to this inconsistency (which by the way can be a really smart was to train – hard for a few weeks, lighten up for a few weeks) I shot for just consistency. I let go of what I constituted as a “training session” and just did something. Everyday. A lot of the times I did 5 sets of one exercise. Simple, straight to the point.


When I was feeling good or excited to workout, I took advantage and those were my hard training days. Since my days were long, unpredictable and most of days I needed to decide between a quick nap and working out – breaking away from a strict training plan and adopting a style where I base what I do exclusively on how I feel and what I had previously done that week was incredibly rewarding.


Realizing that this was acceptable, because it was against the norm of how I had operated for 9 years was a huge. I had the best year of training that I had in a long time. I enjoyed training. I’m definitely not at my strongest right now. I’m close though and this past year I focused on movement quality, improving my technique and mobility. So while I’m not as strong (in meathead gym terms) I’m strong enough for right now. I also feel much more durable and healthy; my body has never felt better because I have never taken this good of care of it.


The negative impact sitting was having on me.


Transitioning to a standing desk was the best change I made in 2015. I’ve always had really tight hips, constantly sore adductors from years of ice hockey and a tweaky low back that constantly ached and gave me sciatic pain. My sole mission of 2014 was to resolve this pain and I accomplished it. I spent an absence amount of time stretching and mobilizing my hips, I was aware of my posture when sitting and I gave myself daily massages with a softball.


Then I opened Gain and was required to spend a lot of time sitting on the computer. When I was cramped to get in a 45-minute workout it was taking me 45-minutes to feel safe enough to train because I was getting so tight again. In April, when I went to a standing desk, the first thing I noticed was that it took me far less time to get warmed up enough for a heavy set of squats. I shifted my focus on getting sweaty and performing movements similar to the exercise I was going to do. I was now spending the day in good positions. Now, there is an emphasis on good, standing poorly all day isn’t going to help. So instead of making sure I opened my hips, and making sure I had all my ranges of motion in check – I was able to warm up more efficiently. This really was what gave me the ability to make the change above.

My body has never felt better, no more aches and pains at all. It was hard work and took a lot of awareness. The benefits are outstanding though.


Taking time to breathe in the morning.


Going into 2015, I wanted to be prepared for all of the new stresses that I was going to face this year starting and running a business. I heard successful people talking about meditation and mindfulness. I listened to Ted Talks, read books and countless articles and tried to adopt a new perspective on things.

I started out by just focusing on doing exactly what I was doing. Trying not to think about the 1000 other things I had on my mind and what I needed to do. The simplest way this was done was by putting my cell phone away when I was doing something else. If I’m going to watch TV, I won’t scroll through Instagram at the same time.  Staying in the task that you are doing, whether it be watching The Walking Dead or completing a project or working out, being “in the moment,” if you will, is powerful. It is also productive which I like. I learned that the best way to be in the moment – do more stuff you like to do.

After saying I needed to start meditating and doing it a few times here or there, I read Dan Harris’ book, 10% Happier. It was a game changer in getting me to take up a more serious meditation practice. I’m more alert, calmer, get more done and genuinely have better days when I do it. Consistency is still tricky but I am starting to take the same approach I did with training in 2015, it doesn’t need to be a grand slam session every time, just put in the work and every little bit will help. Currently, I have replaced traditional meditation with a breathing practice in the morning. It’s like a meditation short cut, it allows me to feel the same and is less difficult because there is a task involved. I feel amazing after doing this. You can learn more about it if you’re interested by googling, “Wim Hof”.


Changes for 2016

I want to decrease time spent on my cell phone. Listen, I’m not against technology or anything like that, I just think we get so caught up on all the things they connect us to and it’s easy to get overloaded on information. I want to be strategic with my usage.

Read more. I have a similar relationship with books as I do with training, all or nothing. I’m pleased with the amount of books I read in 2015, but I need to get more consistent and be okay with only reading for a short period of time more consistently.

Balance. 2015 taught me that there has to be balance in everything. Check out a little more often, relax and hit the refresh button. And be okay with it.

Gut heath. The microbiome that lives inside of us in fascinating and we are just discovering how much of an impact it can have on our daily lives. To start experimenting with this I am going to start eating more fermented foods like kimchi and kombucha.

Thank you all for reading this blog for the past year. I really appreciate it. I hope you all were able to take something away, learn something new and make a positive change to your lifestyle.

Oh, and Happy One Year Anniversary to GAIN! The official start date was 1/2/15, I trained 4 people that day, on 1/4/16 we had over 40 people in for their scheduled workouts.


Changes I Made in 2015

Stop Wearing Shorts to the Gym!

By now, many of you have caught me in my workout tights. I have a hard time warming up when it’s cold out, so it’s tough to be motivated to train sometimes when I can’t seem to get my body moving. That’s where the tights come in. I’ll start a workout wearing a pair of sweatpants with tights underneath (with shorts on too) and a sweatshirt or light jacket, sometimes I’ll even bust out the vest. I always make sure to put on a hat, then I’m ready to start warming up.


After 4 minutes on the rower, the sweatpants and sweatshirt are gone. Here’s where I’ll start some dynamic warm up and probably some jump rope. After 5 minutes or so, I’ll get in some mobility work on some areas that feel a little tight or restricted. From here, will be the first warm up set of whatever I’m doing for the day. Now, maybe the short sleeve t-shirt comes out from underneath the long sleeve, but most likely not yet.


You see, warming up properly for training is tough when it is cold. As the weather gets colder and colder, you should think about how you are going to dress for the gym.


Shorts and a t-shirt won’t cut it. You just won’t get properly warmed up enough for your workout. When you aren’t warmed up, you’ll increase your risk of injury and decrease your strength and power. Your body won’t be properly primed to move well.


So, put some sweatpants over those shorts (you too ladies, thin capris won’t cut it) and keep your sweatshirt on jacket on when you get to the gym to start warming up. I promise you’ll have a much better workout.

Stop Wearing Shorts to the Gym!