Are You a Survivor?

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When I was early in my career, a young lady gave me a notepad that she had made that said “Bill Burnett: not for the faint of heart.” I loved that pad. To me, it said that I am a person who takes people to that place where most are uncomfortable going to. Going where you experience discomfort is an opportunity to change or grow. I believe that people who are looking for greatness live there.  There seems to be a common thread for greatness--it’s a willingness to keep getting up no matter how many times you get knocked down. This mindset makes you a survivor. At some point, I noticed that as my training business grew, people who wanted to be survivors sought me out.

There’s lots of scientific benefits to working out, but I believe that as emotional beings, what we get emotionally from working out exceeds the science. There is something about surviving a workout that gives you a sense of accomplishment unlike anything else. That’s what we get to carry with us. The sense of “I can.” Our society is built around instant gratification. We need everything right now, with no sense of “I worked really hard to get this.” There are those days when I look around the studio after a large group training session, and there are bodies all over the floor with that look of “I did it,” and I know that for the rest of the day, they are elevated knowing that they are survivors. The great thing is, you can do that for yourself every day.

It seems to me that the biggest challenge for most of us is overcoming the voice in our own head. The voice that says you’re too old ,or you're too fat, you’re too tired, or you’re too out of shape--so why bother? This is the same voice that says you’re not good enough, smart enough, cool enough, or that you’re just not enough, in other realms of your life. So often, this battle that we have with ourselves is the worst obstacle that we’ll ever face. I believe that those who use their workout time to the fullest will defeat that negative voice and have the power to overcome the obstacles in life.

The gym is a microcosm of life. You learn a lot about people in the gym and I think you learn even more about people that don’t come in at all. As the owner of a small business, I have grown to realize how working out for all those years helped me to get ready for this. I still feel like someone dropped a building on me most days, but the gym was one of the things in my life that taught me not to quit, but to get up over and over again, no matter how heavy the load.

Just like every other place in life that’s important to you, you can’t just show up. You have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and get a little dirty if you want to make real changes. But all too often, we don’t put enough value on ourselves to push ourselves to the place where real change happens. When you get there, you’ll know it. There is some pain, followed by that sense of euphoria that comes with accomplishment. It’s the sense of accomplishment that we get to build on and take with us.

So I encourage you to become a survivor--take your workouts to new limits and watch it transform the rest of your life.



Memoirs of a Yo-Yo Dieter: Part 2

It's come to my attention that I may have caused some controversy with my last post, so I would like clarify some things.

I would like to say before I start that what I've written has come from over 30 years of experience as both a competitor in the world of bodybuilding and as a personal trainer. Please realize that while there is no one-size-fits-all way of nutrition, there are some small basic rules that won't fail you. These rules are what I hope to get across.

Let's start with your “messed up” metabolism:  there is no such thing as being hopeless.  As my mother would say, you just have to be smarter and work harder.  Understand that as your body gets what it needs, it will start to speed up. Your body is built with checks and balances, so when it doesn't get what it needs, it holds onto what it's not getting. It’s like not drinking enough water. When you don’t drink enough, your body holds water, but when you increase your water intake, your body lets go of the water it was holding. Most people start looking and feeling better just by increasing their water intake.

Now let's look at the concept of eating throughout the day. Start with a meal when you first wake up to break the fast of the night. This is the way to get your metabolism going. Two and a half to three hours later, have a healthy snack or a small meal to help your body to make it until lunch. After lunch, have another snack, and then dinner. You should try to eat every two and a half to three hours. You should really feel like you need food every three hours, and if you don’t then, that’s a sign that your metabolism is not running as it should. One thing to remember is that you have to eat for your metabolism to run and if you're not eating now, you won't be able to when you get older, as our caloric needs decreases as we age.


As a trainer and not a certified nutritionist, I can't give you specific diet guidelines, but here are a few things to work with that come from Precision Nutrition. Use your hand as a measuring tool. I've used a scale to measure my food before, and unless you're getting ready for something, it's just overkill. Try to make all of this as simple as possible, that way you won’t dread it. For men, use two palm-sized portions of protein, two fist-size portions of vegetables, two cupped hand size portions carbohydrates, and two thumb size portions of fat to fill your plate at each meal. With this method, you will find that the variety and the amount of food will be both filling and satisfying. You can take those same measures and cut them in half for a woman. Remember that if you have a history of some sort of dieting like I have, your body may take time to respond to these changes in eating habits, but it will come around. Just give it time. Your body knows you (and your history) and doesn't trust you, so give it time to realize you're going to follow through with this.

Don't get rid of all fats in your diet. Fat does a couple of things for us. It keeps our joints lubricated and it slows down the emptying process in our stomach. We need some fat so that our body will work correctly. I'd like to use the egg as an example. The yolk is where most of the fat is, but without it, we can't fully assimilate all of the nutrients from the egg, making the yolk very important.

Now let's talk about carbs. One thing to think about is that fat burns in a carbohydrate flame. In other words, without some carbs in our diet, fat loss becomes much harder. Weight-loss can happen by losing water weight and lean tissue, but in order to lose fat, we must burn it off since it's unused energy. Once your body starts to protect itself by storing energy, fat can be the hardest thing to get rid of, and the last thing to go.  This means that carbohydrates and the carbohydrate flame are critical for fat-loss.

Most diet plans feed our desire for instant gratification by telling us to decrease carbs or eliminate them altogether.  Our bodies respond quickly and we lose 7 to 10-lbs of water weight in a few days, fixing an emotional need, but not fixing the problem of having excess fat. Remember, taking an element out of your diet will make your body less efficient, so when you have something like a bagel or a piece of bread, your body won’t know what to do with it, and into storage it will go.

Scales. The scale only tells you part of the weight-loss story. Knowing what you’re losing is very important, because if you lose enough muscle, your ability to burn fat will be compromised. For the average person some, kind of bio-impedance device, like the one we have at the Studio, is fine to measure your body fat with. If you’re below 10% body fat, you may want a more sophisticated measuring device. At the end of the day, it’s just a measuring tool that gives you a number to work with.

Then there is water. Drink lots of it. It cleanses the system. It's the easiest way to flush fat out. I don't know about using it to keep you full, but I do know that as a country, we are dehydrated and need to drink more water. You may not like it at first, but it will grow on you. I’m not a great water drinker but lemon helps.

The unfortunate thing about eating right is that it's not exciting or trendy or glamorous. Think about most people that look really good all the time. They don't get to join in on the conversation of the diet of the month because more than likely they just have good habits.

Things to remember:

Eat every two and a half to three hours: three major meals and two snacks. Use your hand as a simple measuring tool.

Don't delete fat from your diet.  You need it to keep your joints happy and to slow down the emptying process of the stomach.

Carbohydrates are fuel. Remember that fat burns in a carbohydrate-flame, so eliminating them will just give you water-loss, but does little to give you real fat-loss.

Drink lots of water to flush impurities out of your system.

I believe anyone can have a nice body and feel good. Don't make the process too complicated, but let it be something you can live with forever.

Remember these are general guidelines to help you understand that eating healthy doesn’t have to suck and can be done without a Ph.D. As I always say, it’s about getting better habits that give you the outcome that you want, not the quick fix.



Memoirs of a Yo-Yo Dieter

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It’s that time of year again, and the 66-billion dollar industry that is “weight loss” is getting its annual boost in sales. Working in the gym is a great avenue to find out what everyone is doing and what they hope to accomplish with the newest, latest, and greatest product. In some ways, this time of year feels nostalgic.

For fourteen years of my life, I was a yo-yo dieter. I was always either getting ready for a body building show or trying to gain size. My first diet was an 1800-calorie diet, and I lost twenty five pounds in twelve weeks. I felt like shit the whole twelve weeks. It required low carb foods, low fat foods, and lots of protein. I ate the same thing almost every day.

For my third diet, I had recruited the help of a biochemist who had me eating 3500-calories—lots of protein, moderate carbs, and low-fat. This was a lot of food. I lost thirty pounds in twelve weeks and felt pretty good. Unlike my first diet, I didn’t lose so much muscle mass, but it was just so much food.

Beyond that, most of my diets were in the higher calorie range and I normally worked out two to three hours a day.  Fast-forward to my last show. I could only lose fifteen pounds and my body fat was up around 8%, unlike my early shows where I competed around 2%.

What I hadn’t taken into consideration was the slowing of my metabolism over time because of all the dieting I had done. I’ll explain this a little later.  

There was an article in the Washington Monthly a couple of years ago about “The Biggest Loser” where a scientist followed the contestants for six years after their final night(s) on the show, The goal was to see what happened to people after losing large amounts of weight using intense dieting and exercise, What they (once again) found was that the metabolisms of these contestant had drastically slowed down. They slowed down to the point where the contestants weren’t burning enough calories to maintain their new, thinner size. This is very counter-intuitive, so let’s talk a little bit about how it works.

If you were a car, a ‘69 Impala, which was my mom’s old car, and you put two dollars worth of gas in and then tried to drive from Ivy to Richmond, when you got just outside of town the car would run out of gas and stop. But your body, unlike this car, is super smart and when we don’t give it enough fuel it slows down its processes instead of running out of gas in order for you to go where you want to go and do what you need to do. The big problem with this is it’s very hard to get it running again at a normal rate.

Earlier in this piece, I told you that the number calories that I dieted on to get ready for a show was around 3500-calories. This is not a number that says deprivation, but quite the opposite. For me, it was almost too much food. Knowing that my goal was to not slow my metabolism, but to speed it up, I had to keep it fueled like a fire. Sadly, over the years I have been caught in the low-calorie trap a couple of times with dire consequences. Each time, I regained all the weight that I had lost, and then some. On top of that, I also lost muscle when I lost weight, so what I gained back was not calorie-burning muscle, it was fat, which just took up space.

In addition to this, as we get older, our caloric needs decrease and our metabolic rate slows down, making weight-loss even harder. It seems like the cards are stacked against us, but with some tweaking of what you do and some patience, any goal can be met and maintained.

There are several points to take from all of this:

The first and arguably most important: stop doing fad diets—they are built for you to fail. If it has an end date to it, then that’s the date your failure starts. Get better habits; good habits have no end date to them and they won’t fail you down the road. Habit-based eating plans are built for success, as they tend to conquer the root problems that cause the bad habits in the first place.

Eat throughout the day. In other words keep, putting wood on the metabolic fire, and don’t let it go out. You should be hungry every two and a half to three hours, and if you’re not, your metabolic rate has slowed down. Sometimes putting in small meals or snacks even when you’re not hungry will reignite your metabolism. This may sound crazy, but your body likes to know that it’s going to get fed, and as long as it does, it will run.

Move more! Body fat hates heat. Get up and move more. Get your heart rate elevated and see if some good things don’t start to happen. And build some muscle. It takes more calories to maintain and move muscle around. Most people would benefit from adding some muscle mass to their frame, not just for weight management, but also to counteract the natural loss of muscle as we age. The more muscle you start with or build as you get older, the better off you will be later down the road. Keeping up your strength and stamina will help to keep your metabolism elevated.

Remember lifestyle changes are never a quick fix, but it’s the fix that lasts. Every decision you make will affect you in the long term either positively or negatively, so take your time, start thinking long-term, and your outcome will be better. There is no cool, flashy, or hip way to get the body you want long-term, it’s making sound choices every day.  

I understand that lifestyle change is difficult, and like with anything else in life, without people who have been where you are to help you go forward, it’s almost impossible to make good decisions. So as usual, I’m here to help. If you have questions or need help, feel free to email me directly at



What I Learned From The Dog Trainer

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I have a nine-month old doberman named Titus. He is an eighty-five-pound bundle of energy and joy. He comes to work with me every day; everyone loves him, and he them. But he’s still a puppy—just a very big one. So he does all the things a puppy should do: he jumps on people, chews on things that I want, and then there is the occasional trip down the street or around the neighborhood without me. So to fix this, I enlisted the help of a very talented dog trainer to help me get Titus under control. After several lessons, I still had little to no control over my dog. After several more mishaps, where Titus was in harm’s way, my trainer chastised me for my lack of commitment to what needed to be done to get the outcome I wanted. It seems that the outcome I got was in direct correlation with the amount of effort, time, and comment that I had given. At this point, I had to consider if I really deserved my loyal companion, since I seemed to be unable to give him what he needed so that he could be an active part of my busy life.

As usual, this made me reflect on the similarities between the dog trainer and myself. She feels that Titus should be my main priority and that my whole world needs to change so that Titus can get what he needs. Sound familiar? This type of thinking is not so unique. In fitness, my assumption as a trainer is that you are in it to win it, to get the body, the energy, and the feeling that only fitness can give you, and that you’ll do whatever it takes to get it. So when people don’t do everything they need to do to achieve their goals, I don’t get it either. When the dog trainer suggested that I needed to spend more time with Titus to reach my goal, I became angry and told her she didn’t understand how busy I am and how much I had going on. This happens to be the very same things that clients have told me my entire career when I would say they need to train more often, get more sleep, and cook at home instead of going to restaurants so often. The resistance is almost identical to what I had given her.

I understood her frustration much better after I had walked a while in her shoes. As she was trying to come up with a solution for my issues, I met her halfway by putting in practice time where I could. Once I started taking responsibility for my outcome and putting in the appropriate amount of time and effort, my results have started to change. Much is the same with fitness. Most of our frustrations are about not getting the outcome we want with the time and effort that we put in. But much like with Titus, the real question is did we really put in the appropriate effort in all phases to get the outcome we were looking for? The best results are found in the details. The dog trainer explained to me some of the subtle things that I needed to do on a consistent basis in order to get Titus to do what I want him to do. The same is true with fitness; being consistent with the small things will make all the difference in you reaching your goal.

Having a clear goal is equally as important, it’s really hard to have a good outcome without clear goals. Having a dog that could handle the basics seemed like a good goal, but I really didn’t know what that meant and I didn’t know what it involved, so it’s understandable that I was having problems. Along with watching videos on YouTube and reading stuff online, I was able to make a big mess. Now that I’m starting to get trained by a trainer, I have a better idea of where I’m going and what I’m doing. I think it holds true in fitness also, that we all need coaching in order to get the results we want. Someone to give us a plan, to help us though the things we don’t understand, to be there when we’re not quite sure what to do, and then to help us keep pushing when thing aren’t going well. Just like with my dog situation, trying to train on your own is a bad plan and normally ends badly. Getting proper help is the key to success.

I understand what it’s like to have a goal and to not quite know how to get there. Dog training is not one of my specialties, but fitness is.  If you have questions or need help, I’d be more than happy to help steer you in the right direction.  You can email me directly at  


Now What?

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Have you ever thought about what it would be like if you met your goal, you lost the weight, you fit into that dress or pair of pants you’ve been trying to fit in?  In a lot of ways, it’s just like getting that job you wanted or a date with that special someone. Once you’re there, the real work starts. With fitness goals, we often don’t see it like that. It’s as if reaching the goal is the end of the road, when it should be the beginning. I think that all too often, when someone starts a fitness routine or diet, they have a goal weight or size that they are trying to reach. This is great, but then what? If you get there, what do you do after you get there?

When I was doing bodybuilding shows, I had a beginning, my contest prep date, and an end, my show date. After that I would go back to my normal questionable habits. All the things I had cut out to get in shape I would add back in. I wasn’t doing it for the long haul. An example would be bacon. Being southern, bacon was a staple in my morning routine. But when I was preparing for a show, I would cut out bacon and most of my high-fat breakfast foods for twelve to sixteen weeks. After a show, one of the first things I would do is go to a breakfast place and have all of my favorites. I would get really uncomfortable, which would happen every time for several weeks until my body re-acclimated to the amount of fat that would bombard my now clean system. This is what happens to most of us, we reach our goal, get close, or get to the end of the time that we said we were going to be on a diet, or designated program. We go right back to what we use to do no matter how uncomfortable it makes us. This unfortunately takes us back to where we started or worse, beyond it.

Remember that a good plan allows for you to reach your initial goal, and then allows for you to progress towards subsequent goals, without any finite endpoint.

Think of a computer game with only one level, it wouldn’t be much fun and most likely people would get bored and quit. That sounds like fitness to me. This is the time of year that people put great energy towards short-term result with no plan, no idea where they are really going, and maybe anticipating failure because that’s what they have experienced in the past. This is a recipe for disaster, and is something I see all the time. Clubs and weight-loss places are often more than willing to take the uninformed customer’s money, knowing they won’t succeed. I often hear people say, “I just need a jump start,” or “I’m just going to do this for a couple of weeks,” but then what? You go back to what you were doing, which wasn’t working in the first place? I’m not a real believer in doing something to get you started for the short term. You’re just setting yourself up for failure.

If it’s time to make a change, then let’s make some real changes, ones that can be done for life. Then you have something to build on, instead of going back to what you used to do. All too often, I have to hear about plans that have no chance to succeed, simply because the plans don’t teach you anything about making better decisions, getting new and better habits, and there’s no time to practice them. Without new habits and time to practice, there is no chance for success. It’s the new habits that dictate real success.

The point to all of this is if you’re being sold short-term solutions without lifelong habits, then they are just taking your money and they plan on doing it multiple times. They know that if you have any success at all, you’ll be back. What you want instead is a plan with life skills in it that you can build on. It’s always great when a plan comes together. Just make sure that your plan is alive so that when you reach your benchmarks, you have somewhere to go, and you won’t go back where you came from.

As always, your success is what I’m working for, so if you need help, please let me know. If you know someone that may find this post helpful, please forward it to them. It may be the encouragement they need to get them going in the right direction.




New Year's Resolutions, REALLY?

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It’s the time of year that people will stop and say, “On this ‘special’ day, I’m going to change something really important in my life. I’m going to stop smoking, stop drinking, spend more time with my family, lose weight, and/or get into shape.” There are lots of New Year’s resolutions that are made, but the likelihood of success is often low. You had three-hundred, sixty-five days to make a change and you chose not to do those things, but now that It’s January first, somehow things are suddenly going to be different. Bologna. The truth is, you set yourself up to fail the moment that you set a date. What normally causes us to make a dramatic change in our lives is that moment that we decide that we don’t want to live like this anymore. That’s the moment that real change can happen because we have real motivation driving us to change.

It’s the why, not the date, which ultimately drives us to do and not quit when it gets hard, and it will get hard.

I don’t say any of this to discourage anyone. I just want to encourage you to think about your desired outcome and to think about why it’s your desired outcome. At the end of the day, what do you want to accomplish? Why? You need a driver—something that will drive you when things get tough, something to hold on to. Last year, I had one of those “I don’t want to live like this” moments when my weight had reached an all-time high. I looked in the mirror and I didn’t like what I saw for lots of reasons, not just the sixty pounds of unwanted weight. In addition, I had started to have heath issues related to my new-found girth. Conventional wisdom would say, “Just go on a diet,” and it’s not like I didn’t know how to. But that’s part of the problem; I’ve been on so many diets over the years, that my body knows all the tricks. So now when I try to start a diet, it just laughs at me, slows down, adds on more unwanted weight, and continues to add to my frustration. This, coupled with a bad habit of mood eating (or bad-mood eating) helped me get to the place that I was in.

As a bodybuilder I was the ultimate yo-yo dieter. I was always either trying to get bigger or trying to get smaller, until my body was totally screwed up. In this moment, in order for me to have real success, I knew had to do something I had never done before:  I had to learn how to eat for the rest of my life. No more “diets.” In the past, I had always just disciplined myself for months at a time so I could reach my goal. Like with all diets, I had an end in mind so I could go back to what I liked to eat normally. This time around, I had to work on making changes that I could live with forever, both with my eating and with my training. The key is knowing that I could do these things for the long haul. Fast-forward to now, and I have lost twenty pounds. It wasn’t the forty pounds that I had hoped for, but I have created some new habits. Now I have some momentum towards the next twenty. The big thing is the decisions that I make now are different:

I think about my outcome instead of just making decisions for convenience.

I don’t think that I am unique and that my problems are different than anyone else’s. We all have stuff to overcome, stuff that may be causing us to make bad decisions. You can’t wait for those things to go away, because something else will just take its place. What we can do is we can learn to make decisions that will help us take care of ourselves better. If you have decided that you don’t want to live the way you’ve been living and you want to make a change, make sure you make new choices for the long haul. Your new habits have to be forever habits. That way you will have something to build on. Take some time and start to understand why you do what you, like eating junk food at night or why you need a glass of wine or scotch every night. It’s not what we do that matters, it’s why we do it. The why will set you free.  Otherwise, you will always be trapped. You can only discipline yourself for so long before what’s underneath inevitably comes out. Once you understand your “why,” you can truly start to make better decisions. Making better decisions will take you to new places.  Remember that doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. Fitness is about lifestyle change, not about making a resolution that will only last a couple of days or weeks. Let your decision evolve from the need to live differently. Make small attainable goals, get a guide to help you on your journey, and you will succeed.

Speaking of goals, my goal for this year is to reach 1000 people with theses blogs. You can help by being my guide. If you feel that these messages will help someone that you know, please forward them. By reaching my personal goal, I hope to help many others reach theirs too.

I’m looking forward to a great new year.



The Daily Grind: What’s Your Struggle?

In life, we all have our struggles—those things that get in our way and keep us from attaining our goals. So what’s your struggle, food, money, wine or a need to have the latest gadget? For most, a person’s greatest struggle becomes a recurring theme that shows up and affects multiple aspects of his or her life.

If I use myself as an example, my greatest struggle is follow-though. I can always come up with a great plan, but when it’s time to execute, I often fall short. It doesn’t mean that I don’t want to do the work; I just don’t like the tedious stuff. But for me, I know that the tedious stuff is usually what helps me to be successful. I tend to want to tackle a bunch of major things, but I end up leaving out the details that make it work in the process.  In the end, I’m left with not reaching many of my goals.

When I was competing in bodybuilding the diet was what I considered to be the “tedious stuff,” and therefore it was the hardest part. In the beginning, dieting was a challenge, but I wanted to win so I did what I had to do. As the years went on, and I competed in multiple shows a year, it became harder and harder to keep up the dieting. What I didn’t really realize was how much of this in essence, was just a normal part of life—the daily grind of having to do things that you find distasteful on a daily basis in order to get where we are trying to go. What I also failed to realize is that the daily grind is what helps us to win in life. Winning comes from stringing together days, weeks, and months of doing all of the tedious little things that ultimately give us real success. This just isn’t what most people want to hear.

In fitness specifically, I think that the hardest things to do are 1) to have a real goal or vision of where you want to go, 2) to make a real plan to get you there, and 3) doing the work—this is your daily grind that will bring you real success. Most of us struggle with one, if not all of these things, making losing weight and improving our conditioning seem almost impossible. It’s the consistency of the daily grind that is the killer for most of us. And I can’t talk about the daily grind or consistency without talking about lifestyle.  Making small changes over time to the way you live your life and to the way you make decisions is difficult and tedious.

Today’s fast-paced society amplifies how slowly change really happens. 

This is why having support through the process is so important. It reinforces that you’re going in the right direction and boosts you up when you’re feeling like things aren’t working. Just think even the best athletes in the world have a coach or a trainer or several of them to help them to improve where they fall short, so support from your family, friends and a trainer or a coach, can mean the difference between success and failure. The struggle is real for all of us. None of us are special in that respect. We may feel that our problems are unique, but everybody has something.  Once we understand that, it just comes down to making better decisions in order to start having better outcomes. If we do this consistently, over time, we get the body and the lifestyle that we’ve been working for.

If you would like some help setting some real goals, need some accountability, or you just need a guide through some of this stuff that’s called life, let me know. I would be more than happy to help. Creating a new lifestyle can be very difficult, and having help can be beneficial. Feel free to email me any time at



Is This Really Love?

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As we start the holiday season, I have been reflecting on some friends and family members that are no longer with us. The loss of these people has prompted me to take some time to write about how we show love.

This is the time of year that people cook and bake and bake and bake as a way to say I love you. When we have family members with health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure, it may be that we need a different way of saying, "I love you,"--maybe something that won’t kill them in the long run. When these treats come around, especially our favorites, we can’t help but over-indulge.

Before I go too deeply into this, let me just say this:

Fitness is a lifestyle; it's not just a part of your life.

The goal for me is to get you to look at the way you live your life differently so  that each one of you can get all that you can out of this type of lifestyle.

Over the last couple of years, I have lost people that I cared about deeply, mostly because of their lifestyle choices. We live in a society that uses food as a way of communicating affection. From the time that we are young, cookies, cake, and pies are ways of showing love, both for the giver and the receiver. Typically, heath issues don’t happen overnight, they take time. By the time we have a problem, it's because we have been making bad decisions for a long time. If you look down from the standing position and you can’t see your shoes, and you can only see your belly, then more than likely you have a problem or you’re going to have one. This could be the precursor to heart disease, diabetes, or any other health issues that come with carrying weight in front like that. And if that's the case, then maybe your family needs to find a different way to say “I love you,” other than your favorite pie, cake, or brownie.

Don’t get me wrong--I’m not saying you can never use food as a gift or to never give someone you love their favorite food. What I am saying is that maybe we need to ask ourselves if that favorite food is truly an appropriate gift or a sign of true love.

I think tradition often dictates what we do instead of wisdom.

Then we rationalize it by saying it’s just this "one time." But the one-timers add up over time until one day, the cumulative effect takes over. We end up losing someone who we love and we don’t consider how we may have contributed to their demise for the sake of tradition. At the end of the day, ask your self if it's worth losing them over a pie, cake, or their favorite drink.

Please understand that I don’t write any of this to be mean, but because I have lost too many friends and love ones because of problematic lifestyle choices that they and their love ones could have fixed and maybe they would still be with us. Maybe the best way to let someone know you love them is telling them and spending quality time with them, not giving them something that they'll over-consume and may kill them in the long run.

Remember that in order for fitness to work in your favor, you have to start doing things differently; you have to live it. You have to leave the things of the world (i.e. the internet and television that influence us so much) behind because they do you no good. Take care of your temple--keep it strong, feed it high-quality fuel, and it will serve you well. Neglect it, and it will let you and everyone around you down.

Every day I’m blessed to come to work hoping that I can influence someone to adopt the fitness lifestyle, rather than letting it be something they do a couple of times a week. I understand that changing your lifestyle is no easy task, so if there is something I can do to help you, let me know. It’s what I’m here for. Your success is very important to me.

I wrote this because of the loss of my Uncle Sonny who I lost when I was in my twenties. I felt like he was taken from me unnecessarily because of his lifestyle. If this post helps one person change the way they do things this holiday season and in the future, I consider it a success.



It's Time to Go to Work

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Everything that's worth having in life takes hard work. Think about when you were born:  your mom had to work really hard just to get you into this world. From that moment on, for each thing that you really want in life, you have to work hard to get it. Why is it that when it comes to working out, everybody wants it to be easy, to happen quickly, to require no real effort, but then everyone wants to have a great outcome? If that’s not how it works with anything else in life, then what’s wrong with this picture?

I talk a lot about the process--I emphasize the importance of going through the process to have lasting results. I often hear people say, “ I just need a jump-start.” My question in return is always, “and then what?” Often people miss the point that this process is one that you go through for life. It’s so that your life can be enhanced--not just once, but over and over again. You’re worth the investment of the time and energy that this process requires, so that you can be, have, and do all that you’re capable of.

You don’t need a jump-start, you need a plan; one that’s built around making you better in every way.

In my previous post, I talked about making time for yourself, and now I just want you to use the time wisely. Choose a plan that allows you to focus your time and energy on what it’s going to make you reach your goals. Too often, I hear people talking about going to the gym and not thinking--this is the worst thing you can do. Everything else that you do during the day that commands all your focus and energy can’t be nearly as important as you are. Give yourself that same focus and see if you don’t start to reach your goals faster. In the gym, the people that have the best bodies are focused on having nice bodies, it’s not an accident that they look good, they worked for it. I believe that everybody can have a nice body that wants one. It just comes down to making the decision to do it, taking the time to make a plan, and putting in the effort and focus.

Another big mistake that most people make is not taking the time to learn and understand how their body works so that they can make better decisions. Yes, any diet will work, but it just may not be the right one for you. As you learn more about how your body works and what it needs, you’ll be able to fuel it properly. That’s when you get lasting fat-loss and a body that you consistently feel good in. The frustrating thing is that it takes time to get to know yourself; most of us just want a solution, which is why the failure rate is so high. Using someone else’s plan may work some of the time, but what you should be doing is getting your own plan. You’re worth it. If you don’t feel comfortable coming up with the plan on your own, get some help.

I want you to stop accepting mediocrity because you’re worth so much more.

The gym can be your safe place; it can be the place that you get to do something just for you, so you can feel good about yourself. It’s the one place in life that all of your accomplishments are yours--and no one can take them. For me, it was the place that I could feel good about me every day. If nothing else was going right in my life, I could go to the gym and work out, and it would be a great day. Sometimes you have to make changes and look at things differently: when you start elevating yourself, everything around you will follow. I want you to understand that you're worth the time, the energy, and every bit of effort that it will take for you to get the body of your dreams (whatever that means for you), and that you’re worth it. Not to mention, all of the people and things around that need your attention will benefit also. You just have to see it in your mind and go for it--it’s there for the taking.

I’ll admit, I am obsessed with getting people to stop hoping that something is going to happen with no work or real effort, and getting them to start taking the steps to get body that they were gifted with from birth. You just need to work for it. Start by making better decisions during the holiday season--not just for yourself, but for the ones you love also. This isn’t meant to take the fun out of this time of year, but to keep you from letting one cheat day turn into two months of bad decisions. Have a great holiday and give yourself the gift of the body and life of your dreams. I want to help you achieve that, so let's work for it together.

If you need help creating a plan, just let me know. The purpose of this blog is for me to help you  change the way you view working out and how it can enhance your life. Having a good plan and a guide will make all the difference in the world. You can email me directly at and I will do my best to help you.



Are You Making the Ultimate Sacrifice?

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I would like to dedicate this post to my late mother, who passed away four years ago on the 10th. She was a person who gave of herself to everyone, but made little time for herself. Unfortunately now, she is not here for us. So as I write this post, I find this topic very near and dear to my heart:

For over thirty years, I’ve been an excited member of the fitness industry in some form or fashion. Working out has changed my life, so every day I try to help people understand how they can change theirs. But even If I do that every day, I will never be able to give it what it has given me. Fitness has been such a valuable part of my life that I don’t understand why people make the ultimate sacrifice: to not work out or to fail to take care of themselves. I hear the excuses all the time: "I’m too busy," "I have kids," "I have too much work," or "I’m too far gone." Some of these things I’ve even said myself. At the end of the day, we all seem to miss the fact that we end up sacrificing the thing that ultimately makes all the other things in life work because we "don’t have time for it." We all have the same twenty-four hours in a day to work with; it’s what we do with it that makes the difference. Other people with the same set of obstacles as you somehow find the time to spend time each week focusing on them and making themselves better. They tend to look like super people because of what they get done in a day.

I don’t just write this stuff, I have lived it. When I got my first management job, my body fat was at 10%. Within two years, it had doubled.

This happened because I had stopped doing a lot of the things that were part of my lifestyle before I got this new job. I was only working out sporadically and I was no longer eating every three hours.  When I did eat, I was eating mostly fast food because it was convenient. I had given up control of my life, but I blamed it on my job. In reality, I had made a choice. I chose to give up the body that I had worked so hard for. Giving up the time I spent on maintenance and upkeep seemed like the obvious thing to do. It gave me more time to focus on the endless list of things that I had to do at work. By choosing to cut out fitness, not only did I give up my body, I also gave up the mental focus that I usually gained from working out. Working out was the juice that I ran on.  It was kind of the juice that made me believe, it made me rise up when things got tough, because I know I could. So it turns out, cutting out fitness meant cutting out the focus, energy, and drive that I needed in other aspects of my personal and work life to do what I needed to do and to go forward. This was my ultimate sacrifice. Trust me it was not worth it.

I tell you this story because it may not seem like we are making this ultimate sacrifice initially, but when we don’t take care of ourselves in order to take care of everybody and everything else, everyone loses. Most of the time, this sacrifice is unneeded. For example, kids are often a big reason people quit working out, missing the point that most kids like having the cool in-shape parents. It's even better when they get to go to the gym with you. And who doesn’t want the grandparent that has the energy, stamina, and the strength to keep up with the grandkids? Or the highly productive employee that has the energy and the focus to get the job done, no matter what? Outside of all of that, sometimes it’s just nice to be able to look in the mirror and like what you see, or to put on clothes and be happy with the way they fit. No matter how we rationalize it, most of us would like to look young and fit and feel good doing all of these things for as long as we can. Instead, we often sacrifice ourselves.

Isn't it time to start allotting time to take care of you?

My hope is that you will see how making an investment in yourself will pay off, and that there is no more need to sacrifice you. You can have it all. Make sure that you are working at optimum so that you can live life and perform at optimum. Stop just trying to check off the boxes of life, moving from one thing to the next. I want to see you living your life at its fullest—whatever that means for you. If you don’t take care of you first, the rest may happen, but it won’t happen at optimum. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about being selfish—I just want to make sure that you never forget to include yourself as part of the equation. 

Sometimes we need help coming up with a plan that will help us fit everything into the day and still have time for ourselves. It may just take another set of eyes to find the wasted time in your day. Often, when someone else looks at your day, they can help you to fit more in and have more free time too. Keep an open mind—it may not feel OK at first, but just stay with it. The people around you will support you, and should respect what you’re trying to do. Who knows? You may influence them to take the leap and make a change also. 


There Is No Shortcut

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One of my biggest complaints with my industry is that it’s afraid to tell people the truth, as if not telling the truth is helping them. What I’m referring to is the truth about shortcuts—that magic workout, or pill, or special diet that will magically give you the body of your dreams. I’m here to tell you that there are no real shortcuts. 

If you ask someone who has had a nice body for a while, for the most part, you will find that they have rituals—things that they do all the time that have allowed them to look and function the way they do.

I believe that over the years, the industry has compromised itself by buying into everyone’s need for instant gratification, letting the “quick-fix” have a voice—the pills and the diets that make outrageous claims but don’t give lasting results—and by minimizing the amount of effort it takes to have real change. With all of the conflicting information that is readily available for the average consumer, most people are so confused that they end up just giving up. I believe that if you give people accurate information, then they can make an intelligent decision about what will work for them. That way, they know what they are getting into and they won’t have a “wait what?” moment when they find out what they really need to do. 

I love my industry and I would do anything to protect it, but we need to stop the madness. If you can’t sustain what you’re doing for the rest of your life, don’t do it. It’s as simple as that. I had a client tell me that he had a friend that lost 30-lbs in thirty days. For someone who desperately wants to lose weight, this sounds like a dream come true, but what we know is that rapid weight-loss will result in a major rebound when you go back to your old habits. You’ll end up putting on way more than you lost.

There just aren’t any real shortcuts; if you’re choosing to do something that you can’t do for life, you will fail. 

If you don’t change your habits, you will fail. Remember: the habit that got you where you are will not take you where you are trying to go. But who wants to hear that? What we want to hear is 10-lbs in ten days. Good luck with that.

If you think about it, we don’t become overweight, get out of shape, or become weak or stiff overnight. It happens to us over time. Just think: if you only gained two pounds a year over five years, you would be ten pounds heavier without really noticing. My point is that your body has checks and balances for out-of-the-ordinary events. If you have a bad weekend and you eat and drink too much, when you get back to your normal routine, your body will kick off the new weight that you gained. It’s only when we string bad weekends and bad weeks together that we end up with a problem.

Consistency always wins—for better or worse. 

Now comes the hard part—making the necessary change to get the weight off, or to get your strength up, or to improve your flexibility, or to strengthen your core. The amount of information and theories available is overwhelming, and much of it is contradictory. This leaves all of us confused and unsure of what to do, so we resort to the latest pills or diet plan that are marketed to give you results overnight and give you the body of your dreams in just two weeks. I will openly admit that I used to fall for this every time. Something new will come out with these great claims of overnight success, and after I spend my money, the only thing that has changed is my wallet. They prey on our need for success without the pain of the process. 

The process is where real growth comes from. When I was competing, I was sure that the supplements I was taking were giving me the edge. But in retrospect, it was my diet, the massive amount of load I put on my body, and my hour and a half to two-hour workouts. All of this combined with the vision of what kind of body I wanted, made the real difference—not the supplements I was taking. My point to this is that I’m just like everybody else. The habits that got me where I am will not get me where I want to go. I understand how difficult it is to change what you do every day or even how you think about things. So you can make better decisions. It’s a process, and real change takes time. Don’t be fooled by the dream-come-true. If it seems too good to be true, then it is. I encourage you to enjoy the process; it’s the stuff along the way that will give you lasting results.

If you need help with your lifestyle change just let me know. It always helps to have a guide. Or if you think this may help someone you know, please share it with them.



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Commitment: the word that strikes fear in the hearts of both men and women. Over the last couple of weeks, I have been writing about how to make progress and what’s keeping us from making it. In the final installment of this series, I am going to focus on commitment. At the end of the day, your ability to reach any goal in life is going to be determined by your level of commitment.

In life, we often view someone who overcomes great obstacles to achieve extraordinary results as special—as if they have something that the rest of us don’t have. I’m here to tell you it’s not true. That’s not to take anything away from what they have achieved, but I think it’s important to say we all have this in us. Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day; it’s what we do with those hours that make the difference. Extraordinary achievements come for unyielding commitment. Simply said, they don’t give up when things get uncomfortable, inconvenient, or tough, they dig in.

What I watch in today’s fitness is a lack of commitment to a different lifestyle. There is a lot of talk about getting in shape or losing weight, but when it comes to making the necessary lifestyle changes, there is no real commitment to making change. At the end of the day, it’s your lifestyle that has you where you are, and is ultimately what needs to change for you to get where you’re trying to go.  When I started this workout thing, I was taught it was a way of life—not something you did for a minute. So all the things you had to do didn’t seem like such a big deal because you were already committed to a lifestyle. By the same token, it was understandable that if you weren’t all in, how hard it would be to do all the things it would take to be successful. I often hear people say, “I just need a kick start,” as if that’s going to fix years of a bad lifestyle. Then you say something to them about making a commitment to reaching their goals, and they are unwilling to commit. Makes me wonder how many other things in life they were unwilling to commit to, because I think your health is pretty important.

I think that so often we don’t see ourselves succeeding, we have no vision of what our outcome is going to be. Like anything in life, you need a goal that is written down so there can be some accountability for your outcome. If you know you need to lose 40 or 50 pounds, then that needs to be your written down goal. Then you can create a map to get to that goal, with the understanding that it won’t happen overnight and that there will be plateaus along the way. I heard a speaker once talking about teaching a child to walk. The question was: if after a week, if the child couldn’t walk, would you just give up on it, or would you understand that it would take time and eventually the child would get to walking and then move on to running? The main point is that you wouldn’t just give up because the child fell a lot in the beginning. Fitness is the same way—you just have to keep trying and not give up. Weeks may go by where you don’t see any progress at all, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not getting better. The day will come when you look down at the scale and it says what you want it to say, you just have to stay committed.

Over that time period you will have change your habits. Those new habits will become your new lifestyle. These new habits will continue to keep you going in the right direction, so even if you have a bad weekend or go on vacation it will be easy for you to get back on track.

Just remember: set your goal, write it down so you can be accountable for it, see yourself being successful and then commit. You will find that extraordinary results can be achieved, you just have to commit.

Please understand that I believe in you and your ability to succeed. I also understand how difficult it is to sift through all the noise that is out there. I get up every morning excited to be the guide through the noise for my clients. If you need a guide to help you attain your goal, please let me help you.


There Is No Exchange

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One of the biggest questions that fitness professionals get is, “why am I still fat?” This question is often followed by, “I’ve done this, this, and this, but I’m still fat.”  The thing about fat is that it’s not easily fooled.  It knows you and has been with you your entire life. You’re not going to be able to trick it into going away.  Fat loss takes time and consistency—weeks and months strung together in order to get results.  What I want to talk to you about today specifically in regards to fat loss is “the exchange.”  This is the “if I do this during my workout, then I can treat myself to this after my workout.”

I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but there is no exchange.

Let’s say that you do cardio for forty-five minutes and burn 400 calories, but afterwards, you go and have your favorite number-two at a fast food restaurant.  That’s 680 calories that you’re putting in, for a net gain of 280 calories.  This is why the exchange doesn’t work.

So often I hear people say “that’s why I do this—so that I can have this.”  Unfortunately, what you do in the gym will have little to no effect on your ability to cheat with your food.  However, a good diet will have a profound effect on your training, your recover from workouts, and the amount of energy that you have. You can’t out-train a bad diet.

Let’s just look at a couple of things:  Many people amp up their cardio workouts when they are trying to lose weight. Cardio workouts were never intended to make you lose weight. The goal of these workouts is to make your heart and lungs stronger.  Because of what these workouts do to your metabolism, there is a calorie burning effect. However, this doesn’t mean that you can go out and eat and drink whatever you want. The calorie burning effect that you get from a cardio workout is not enough for significant fat loss or body composition change.  And for this reason, you can’t use a cardio workout to make up for bad food choices. You just have to work on having better habits.  The habits that got you where you are will not get you where you want to go. Just doing cardio or running won’t fix it, especially as we get older.  

We need to replace the bad habits with good habits that will allow us to reach our goals.

The next thing I want to look at is weight workouts. It doesn’t matter if they are done slow and methodically, or as a metabolic workout with little to no rest. At the end of the day, the goal of weight workouts is to build muscle and gain strength. A byproduct of these workouts is that it takes more calories to maintain and move muscle around. By the same token, muscle is dense, so it takes up less space on your body. You will look smaller compared to someone who weighs the same but has less muscle than you and more fat. So while weight workouts will change the way you look, you can’t expect these workouts to counteract bad food choices. 

The big point to all of this is that change is difficult and it takes work. Fitness is no different. I’m not saying that you can’t drink, but a glass or two of wine every night probably won’t help you out if you really want to get lean. Going out to restaurants is nice, but going multiple times a day and letting someone else have control of your calories is probably not a recipe for success. In order to achieve the goal of losing weight or getting leaner, and staying that way, you need to have that moment where you say “I’m not going to live like this anymore.” That’s when you will start to make lasting change. Commit to making a change and making new habits, instead of sticking with “the exchange,” which leads nowhere. 

Are You Training Enough?


Most people join the gym to change the way they look and feel.  It’s exciting for the first couple of workouts, but then it becomes work. Making time, changing habits, and not being able to eat whatever you want take all the fun out of the thought that you were going to lose 20-lbs in just a couple of workouts.  You start to realize that this is what your life looks like going forward, if you continue to go down this path. 

This is the moment when you have to start making decisions with your end-result in mind. 

I begin to think of what the average person goes through at the gym. They have goals, but no real idea of what it’s going to take to fulfill them. Most people work really hard the first couple of weeks—maybe even a month—thinking that they can get in shape without help. After this point, they have either gotten discouraged because of the lack of progress, or they have gotten hurt, or both. There are some basic rules you can follow that will allow you to make progress. The most important thing to do is to get an exercise plan so you can achieve maximum benefit.

So often, I see people that only workout once a week and wonder why they haven’t made the progress that they have envisioned. The average person needs to do something at least 5 out of 7 days. The older we get, the more we need to do. Now that doesn’t mean you have to lift weights every day, or do cardio every day, but you have to do something. Most people benefit from having weight workouts one day and cardio the next. 

There are many ways to get to your end result without getting bored.

One example of a good workout week would be: Day one: total body weights, Day two: interval weights (which would be considered a metabolic workout), Day three: core strength, stretching, and balance work, Day four: cardio intervals, and Day five: back to a metabolic workout. Now you have a week with all the components you need for multiple areas in your life. This is just an example of a week that you could make real progress with body composition change.  You would lose weight, improve flexibility, get stronger, and have better endurance. These are all things that most people want to do, but they rarely have any guidance or ever achieve real results. Most clubs give you lots of options, but no real plan. 

I’ve been working out for 34 years, so I’ve pretty much seen it all. There was a time when we thought that if you did hours of slow cardio, you could achieve significant weight-loss. This proved to be false. Research now tells us that even if you were only going to work out three days a week, you would do a total body weight, a metabolic (interval with weights), and a cardio interval workout (about a 20 to 40 min workout). We now know that load and intensity are the most important things—they allow us to get the most bang for our buck.

The bottom line is that if you want to reach your fitness goals you have to do something multiple time a week.

Don’t be fooled by schedules with lots of options that you’re not quite sure what they are for. Instead, map out your week using a simple plan that will help you reach your goal. All you need is an investment of five hours a week, or less. We watch more than five hours of TV most nights. Most of us have the time; we just need help understanding what we need to do to get maximum results.

If you would like help achieving your goals, click the "Learn More" button below, and let us help you map out your plan to reach your goals.

It's All About Staying Strong

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Over the last couple of days, I have had several conversations about why it’s important to keep your butt strong. These talks have taken me back to why I opened this place—one of my big goals is to keep people independent and active as long as possible. I have several friends that work in old folks homes as therapists. I visit these places often, and what I’ve seen is frightening. I’m not saying that all these places are the same, but to see so many people in various states of disrepair is very disturbing. The people I saw in those homes didn’t just wake up one morning unable to get off the commode without help. It took time to get to that point. And more than likely, during that time, they made excuses for what was happening like, “I’m just getting old,” or “I have a bad knee, hip, or back.” Ultimately, they just didn’t do anything to fix it, and eventually, they could no longer function on their own. 

It’s important to remember that the stronger that you are now, the stronger you will be later in life.

Starting to build strength now means a better quality of life now and down the road; it’s not necessarily for today or tomorrow, but for five, ten, or fifteen years from now. People are living longer and are planning financially to live longer, but most are not preparing physically to live longer with a quality of life that they may want. We spend way too much time chalking things up to old age and very little to poor maintenance. Investing some time to make sure that your body continues to work the way it was meant to will yield big dividends later in life.

So often, people will say that training is “too expensive,” and when we end up at the doctor with lifestyle-related illnesses, such as diabetes or heart disease, we also complain about the cost of medication or the visits the doctor themselves. What many don’t understand is that most, if not all of these illnesses can be avoided with a good exercise routine and with good eating habits. Though in the beginning, training may seem costly, but our poor lifestyle choices will end up costing us way more than training ever will. And it’s the quality of life that we sacrifice that’s even more important (and costly).  

As you go through your day to day activities, I want you to think: “What things do I enjoy doing? Do I want to be able to do this forever? And if so, what do I have to do now to make it happen?” Giving up the things that you enjoy should not be an option; it’s not a normal part of growing older. I believe that we should be able to live life at its fullest until the day we die.  

We shouldn’t put ourselves in a position of merely existing, or in a position where we can no longer contribute, we can only take.

I hope that going forward, you start to look at working out with the bigger picture in mind—it’s a vehicle to a better life. It’s a vehicle that you can ride till the end.

- Bill Burnett

If you have questions about your current workout or certain exercises, feel free to contact me. I can be reached at