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7 Things I Have Changed My Mind On

I am a big believer in that if you are not changing your thoughts, opinions, and or beliefs, every now and again; you are not growing.

Below are 7 topics that I have changed my mind on. These range from training, nutrition, and mindset.

1. Animal based diets

Diets will always be controversial. The most notable feud tends to be between those of the plant based community, and those of the more animal based community. For this conversation here, plant based eaters are those that do not consume any animal products, and animal based diets are those that focus on obtaining their food from animal sources. They consume a small to moderate amount or, or no amounts of fruits and vegetables.

There has been much debate on which is better for human health. Previously, I had been a proponent of a reduced animal product diet. However, I have since shifted my position to one highlights the benefits of both of these types of foods. Rather than the negatives, which I believe are over exaggerated by both groups at times.

Many animal based products are a great source of protein and natural sources of fat. Both of which are crucial for health and performance. In addition, these animal products offer nutrients that are not as available in plant based diets. For example, vitamin b12, creatine, carnitine, heme-iron (a form of iron that is more easily absorbed by humans), are only found in animal based foods. That being said, there are benefits incorporating foods like meat, chicken, eggs, fish, and full diary into a diet.

I also better understand now the trending and controversial carnivore diet as well. This type of diet is more restrictive in how much fruits, vegetables, and grains you consume. This diet is an elimination of all things that do not come from an animal. There are many stories out there of people getting rid of a lot of chronic diseases and ailments with this diet, one of which being a close friend of mine, and has an incredible success story following an animal based diet (check his podcast out here The Meat Mafia Podcast).

This is not me saying that animal based foods are superior. The diet you eat should be following is centered around multiple factors. What I am getting at though, is to always look at both sides of the argument to formulate your opinion. This is what the ones who really understand nutrition and science do. I have faith in my opinions because of the fact I have gathered information from both sides of the debate.

Just to be clear: meat is good for you and so are plants.

2. Training programs should be more fluid

Many training programs out there are really nothing fancy. 3 sets of 10 here, 4 sets of 8 there, and sprinkle in some 5 sets of 5.

However, the excitement that comes when you get a new training program is like nothing else. You just planned out your training week, get a fresh jug of pre-workout and protein power, and are in bed by 10 pm to get up the next day at 6 am to be at the gym at 7 am before work.

The first two weeks go awesome. Your on your routine, your strength is going up, and then bam. You get hit with a stressful project from your boss. You have to put in a few extra hours, and your week is a little thrown off. You are a little more tired than usual, and your training program is at risk for being put on the back burner.

Rather then put the training to side, I highly recommend you keep training. However, rather than sticking to the plan the way it is written, I am more supportive of a slight audible. During periods of high stress, we may not have the capacity to train at the intensity we are planning on.

Recently, I have been more inclined to reduce how much intensity my clients train in periods of high stress. Weather that stress be work, life, or personal, it will affect our performance. Rather than risk a poor performance, or worse, and injury, I have found much more value in reducing the intensity or training volume until the high stress is over. An option for you could be one that is written below.

Instead of 5 sets of 5 with 85-90% of your 1 rep max, do 5 sets of 5 with 80%. Yes it is a little light, but you will still be working on technique, form, and still getting your lift in.

This will keep you on your routine, and maintain the progress you have made. In addition, you will likely be better equipped to handle the stress better, now that you won't have as you would have if you followed your intense training as originally planned.

Some may say this is a weak or soft approach, and may still advocate a push through it mentality. That was me when a first started my personal training career. Yeah that worked for some. But take it from some one that has now spent a thousands of hours working with real humans, that is not the majority.

Life is chaotic and unpredictable, our training programs should be fluid to account for this.

3. Less is more, quality over quantity

There is a lot of push out there on the inter-webs. ONE MORE, ONE MORE REP, 20 MORE POUNDS, 1 MORE MILE!! Some of it can be motivating don't get me wrong. But, there is a point where more won't give you that return you are looking for.

Rather than go to the extreme each time you workout, I think a less is more approach is better the as you get older and progress through your training journey. When focusing on quality not quantity in the gym, the following are likely to occur.

  1. Better use of your muscles. Using the right muscle for the right exercise.

  2. Less chance of injury.

  3. You can push at a high output/intensity each set and each training day because you have more in your gas tank.

  4. Recovery is better. Meaning you can put more quality into the next training session.

You can still train every day with this mindset. Quality over quantity doesn't mean you go soft in the gym. It just means that you don't to do every set to failure. Or you don't add 10 more pounds on your 5 sets of 5 routine when you couldn't get 5 reps with the weight you currently are using.

Quality will help you maintain the intensity and not lose it.

4. The struggles of getting in shape, losing weight, and fitness in general

I have always been someone that loves the gym and working out. It has always just come natural to me. I am very grateful for that. Yet I do have weeks where I don't get to the gym or workout. Yes, as personal trainer I have busy weeks just like you where it is difficult for me to find time to work out. But I never let it go longer than it needs to be, its always very easy for me to get back on the horse again. I have made it a routine, habit, and lifestyle. My goal for anyone is to make fitness and getting healthier easier, so that it is a part of their lifestyle they are proud of. And without a doubt, this is the hardest part of what I do.

This past year I have realized that even though people know the positives of exercise, it is so hard for some to fit it into their lives. This is what makes me irritated about Instagram influencers who say how easy it is to find the time to work out. "You just have to have enough will power" or " You have to want it bad enough" or "Don't be lazy", are all things that people may share.

I take it hose people have never trained clients that have two kids under 3 years old, or the 50 year old that runs their own business, the overweight person that hates everything about the gym but their spouse is making them do it, or even the young adult that is dealing with mental health issues that no one knows about.

I have learned that getting healthy may not come to others the same way it did to me. Realizing this has made me a more compassionate and understanding coach. I have become a better at working with my clients to find solutions that will help them fit healthier habits into their life.

This is what I am most proud of to have realized. It has helped me ask better questions to clients, and better questions lead to better results.

5. Discipline is more important than motivation

Discipline and motivation go hand in hand.

We are all motivated by something or someone. The truth is we may be more motivated on some days more so than others. Life is unpredictable at times, and our motivation is likely to follow suit.

Things that keep us going are things like support from others, seeing progress, gaining confidence in what you are doing, and setting realistic goals and expectations. There will be times where one or more of those things will not be as high as we would like.

This is where discipline kicks in. Staying discipline is staying the course. Staying discipline is trusting the process. Staying discipline is not just doing right by yourself now, but bringing you closer to that future self you are trying to become.

In the real world this looks like not wanting to get up at 5 am to workout before work, but doing it anyway because you know you'll be happier that you did. Or sacrificing one more episode to go to bed on time, or even saying no to the french fries and getting the baked potato instead. Motivation is likely to fluctuate, but discipline is what keeps the needle moving forward.

Discipline Equals Freedom - Jocko Willink (click the link to be taken to the book).

6. Mastering the basics

"I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks. I fear the man that has done 1 kick 10,000 times" - Bruce Lee

I love this quote for a lot of reasons, but the main reason is it serves as a reminder to me that the best in the world to the same thing over and over again. And most of the time that thing is the basics.

Squat, hinge, push, pull, lunge, and carry. These are the basic movement patterns that many training programs are built off of. And for good reason too. These are great patterns, and very functional. However, what gets confusing is all the different types of variations and exercises fit with in each of these categories.

The basics are there for a reason. Everything else is built off of them. They are the base of the pyramid, and the wider the base, the higher your peak can be. Humans fall pray to the shiny object syndrome pretty quickly. Seeing something new on Instagram will drive people to try it and because it is new and they automatically think that it is something cutting edge that they should be doing. It is human psychology. I believe blindly getting new exercises from Instagram is leaving gains on the table for you.

We will have to change our exercises. Doing so trains our muscles from different angles to hit different parts of the muscle fibers. However, my claim is that people may be switching things up to fast. I have some clients that have been doing an incline bench press for 4 months now. And still making progress, so why would I change that.

Changing exercises is good and should happen as your training progresses. My point is that I think people will find better results if they delay that switch and spend more time learning the basics.

The best do the basics over and over and over again.

7. More use of machines in training

Up until recently, I hadn't been training with machines for quite some time. Admittedly, I was team free weight. I bought in hard on the idea that free weights offer more bang for your buck. Free weights come with things that machines don't have. For example, more use of the core and stabilizing muscles, more resemblance to everyday activities, and more ways to vary and exercise based on individual needs.

On the flip side, machines offer a lot that free weights don't. They can reduce joint stress (depending on the exercise), they provide more stability, no fear of dropping equipment on yourself (relative to free weights), target specific muscles, better environment to push yourself harder. And the ability to push hard is a key selling point for me and my people.

When on a machine, you have much more stability and control of the weight you are using. This sense of control allows you to push the intensity a little more than you could with free weights. Let's take squats as an example, with the goal being to absolutely torch your legs.

If I was coaching you to do 3 sets of 15 to failure, which would you feel more comfortable going to failure on. A back squat, or a leg press. For most of the people I work with, they will say leg press. There is way less of a learning curve with the leg press, and your stabilizer muscles are less likely to limit you in a leg press as well. All this means you can push harder with less risk. Machines have been wrongly demonized in the "functional" (a major BS term by the way), and the free weight community.

Free weights are good to train with, and so are machines. Use both to make great gains.

The purpose of this post was to share how my views on a few things have changed. It wasn't to say one thing is better than the other.

Morale of this story is the following. If you are saying the same things, doing the same things, and not challenging your own opinions and believes, how can you expect to expand your knowledge and growth.

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