Update: Jim Stoppani’s No Limits Challenge

If you’ve been around this blog for any amount of time, you’ll know I’m a big fan of challenges.

There’s something to staying accountable, sending in pictures every week, and staying on schedule. That’s also why a lot of people hire trainers, so they can have that kind of accountability.

This isn’t going to be a long post, just an update. Some people have messaged me like “R U ALIVE?” and to be honest, some says I’m not sure. I quit coffee for a day last week (lololol, I know, a day) and regretted it immediately. (If you do want to stay updated, come say hi on Instagram!)

If you have a problem staying consistent (a problem most people have), few things beat a challenge to stay focused.

Fitness is the things that keeps my entire life on track. When I’m lifting, things are going well. When I’m not, I’ve noticed I seem to struggle to stay organized and focused. I’m not sure if it’s the consistency or the stress relief that comes from lifting every morning, but it’s just one of the to-do’s that’s part of the foundation of a happy life for me.

I’m not sure if I’ll be updating the challenge weekly or just do a wrap-up at the end, but either way, you’re welcome to join me!

What You Need to Know About Fish Oil

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Most of us are aware that fish oil is good. It helps your joints, your brain, reducing risks of diabetes, arthritis, it can help your mood… the list goes on.

However, in my never-ending quest to call out the supplement industry on the amount of BS they sell consumers, there are so many horrible fish oil supplements out there.

Right off the bat, according to Labdoor, most fish oils are not even accurate in their labeling. Take a look: here. I’m not a fan of wasting money, and I’m sure you aren’t either. If one of the supplements you take is at the bottom of the list, don’t buy that brand again.

Keep in mind, Labdoor mainly tests for label accuracy and chemicals that hurt your body in the supplement. That DOESN’T mean the ones at the top of the list provide enough omega-3’s, it just simply testing if you are getting what the label says you are.

So, don’t just go to the top of the list and assume those are the best there is.

Why you need omega-3’s

Your body can’t produce omega-3’s. It’s something you need to get in a supplement. Of course, ideally you’d be getting it from your food each day, but not everyone can afford eating quality fish each day. Not to mention, a lot of fish is farmed (which can be good or bad depending on the fish), has mercury, or the label is lying. (Source #1, Source #2.)

^ Seriously, though. You should read those articles. As a passionate sushi-eater, it makes me livid. I haven’t figured out how to guarantee that your fish is what it says it is, but the day I do I’ll be blogging about it.

The benefits of omega-3’s

“University of Pittsburgh researchers recently reported that in adults age 35-54, the higher their blood levels of DHA, the better their performance on tests of nonverbal reasoning and mental flexibility, working memory, and vocabulary.” Source.

Fish oil can also help your body fight against air pollution. Source. For me, this is huge. I live in Denver and am moving to Los Angeles within the next year. Both cities have horrible air pollution, basically where the recommended level is “Don’t go outside” every single day. (Yeah, you won’t find that on a travel guide.)

For lifters, fish oil has also been shown to help with muscle-building. Scientists aren’t exactly sure why or how, but they believe it has something to do with assisting muscle protein synthesis.

How much you need

Generally, you need 1,500 mg of DHA and 1,500 of EPA per day.

Now, when you look at most fish oils, they barely have ~100-150 DHA per pill. So yes, you’d need to take a lot of pills to get your daily amount. Also, most brands will make claims like, “Doctors only recommend 300 DHA and EPA a day,” which is not true. They just want to claim their amount is right.

How can they do that? “The FDA does not regulate omega-3 dosages, and the manufacturer is responsible for determining that the serving sizes recommended are safe for the public. FDA approval is not needed to sell any dietary supplements containing omega-3, provided these ingredients were approved for use before 1994.” (Source.) THIS is exactly why I eye-roll at so much of the supplement industry.

However, there are also rarely any pills with an equal amount of DHA and EPA, so you basically are stuck either overdosing or underdosing for each.

In case you’re like, “WHAT DO I TAKE?”, I take Jim Stoppani’s Omega Jym. I’m not linking it because I don’t want anyone to think I’m getting some kind of monetary kick back for writing this. That’s truly what I take. In 4 pills I get everything I need daily and on days where I go on a sushi binge or eat fish, I cut back.

What else you need to know

You can also take your fish oil in liquid form. Not everyone can or likes to swallow pills daily. Here’s some info on liquid vs pill fish oil.

There are also vegetarian options out there for omega-3’s, but that would require additional research depending on what you’re looking for.

Be sure to read the entire label. Most companies include other BS into their supplements.

For example, a quick google search of algae omega-3’s as an alternative brought up a pill that has carrageenan and caramel color as additional ingredients. You just want a fish oil, why do they feel the need to add an essay of other ingredients?

My goal is always to arm you with the information, research, and studies you need to know so you can make the best decision for you and your health.

Tips to Start Working Out When You’re New to the Gym

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Starting a workout can be daunting when you’re still trying to learn your way around the gym.

There’s muscle heads all over the weights section and you feel so awkward and out of place. Plus, they’re intimidating. It’s hard to lift next to someone curling 30 lb. dumbbells when you’re there with your 10 lb. weights trying to not hurt yourself.

At least, that was my experience.

I felt like a tiny little delicate toothpick in this sea of muscle trying to not get in anyone’s way, so I know how awkward that beginning can be. Not to mention, I made every single beginner mistake possible, which helped when I was trying to guide clients to avoid the same mistakes.

How beginners approach the gym can make or break their gym habits from then on, so let’s discuss how you can do it right.

Find someone who can show you the ropes

This isn’t always easy, because finding someone reliable to work out with is a borderline impossible task, but if you can find someone who can go with you even just a few times to show you the basics, that can be a huge help.

An alternative to this is to hire a trainer. Trainers are rarely cheap, but if you want to force yourself into a commitment and stick with it, it’s a good idea. A lot of big gyms will give you one free training session to test the waters. Be ready for a heavy pitch at the end, but at least it’s a way to get you going.

Commit to the small

While most beginners want to start off with the “best” program available (and it’s a good intention!), the problem is that most of those programs are extremely complicated for a beginner.

Through the years, I’ve discovered that most beginners rarely stick to a program that requires them to spend an hour or more in the gym. Once someone is too sore from a strenuous program, they quit. Instead, focus on simple movements that build up your stamina as you go.

My first program only had about three exercises, which I followed for two months. Then, I went to a program with about six exercises for a few months. That’s how I finally stayed committed. Before that, I’d make it complicated, get sore or injured, quit, and do it all over again in a few months.

Learn one substitution for each muscle area

 

For example, if the 20 lb. weights you need for a dumbbell curl are taken, you can go to the rope curl.

It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a good way to start. One awkward part of starting in the gym is working around people, asking for weights, and waiting your turn. When you can bypass that and get right into another exercise, it won’t get in the way of your flow.

I was also a little more awkward starting out than most people might be. Imagining asking some dude who was 250+ lbs. when he was done with the 25 lb. dumbbell was just too much for younger me, so I kept it simple. You might not be as awkward as younger me was, so do what works for you.

However, the substitution trick helps no matter your experience level because sometimes equipment will be taken or broken and you’ll need to switch it up.

Mentioning that, my stair climber broke at my gym and I’m heartbroken, you guys. Heartbroken.

Find off times and off seasons

After working at a gym, I can tell you the busiest times: First two weeks of January, two weeks before any local college’s spring break, before summer, and before Halloween.

Those were always the times that the cardio machines would be packed, we’d need extra staff on hand, and it was just a zoo overall. From there, after work hours were always crammed until about 7 pm.

When you’re starting, going into a gym where you have to wait 10+ minutes for a bench can be daunting, so if possible go in the off times. When I was first starting out, I started going to 24 Hour Fitness at 11 pm because I had almost everything to myself.

Do not ego lift

This is the top mistake I see new lifters make: they want to impress that hottie in the gym, so they lift way beyond capacity and hurt themselves or make some other silly mistake.

I’ve ego lifted a few times in my life and I certainly did not forget them because they all ended up embarrassing. Having to crawl out from a weight you are failing at lifting is a horrible feeling, especially when you were way off.

Those are my biggest tips for any new lifter. Don’t be scared. Go get it.

– Jackie

 

How to Avoid Gaining A Million Pounds on Thanksgiving

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Okay, okay a million is a little dramatic, but gaining weight and binging on Thanksgiving is accurate.

Believe me, I get it. I come from a long line of people who know how to cook and are incredibly passionate about good food.

Going home for Thanksgiving is like entering Disneyland for my belly. Every single dish is incredible and since I’m an only child there is always an over-abundance of leftovers since we end up cooking for a family of 8 (easily).

Needless to say, there’s no way I could sit here and just say, “Eat less!” as I’ve seen a handful of trainers online say. Eat less? Are you kidding? Have you tried a homemade raspberry and peach pie? GTFO.

Also, keep in mind that gaining a pound or two will not destroy your life. I’ve always felt that enjoying food and time with family is always more important than depriving yourself. Unless you’re prepping for a contest, that’s a whole different situation.

Thankfully, there are ways you can help your body prepare for the calories you’re about to eat. Supposedly, the average person eats around 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving, if that gives you any idea.

Here are two, right off the bat from Jim Stoppani, and then we’ll dive into the rest.

1. Cut your carbs early in the week.

2. Try intermittent fasting.

3. Make things from scratch.

Even looking at MyFitness pal at the difference between a homemade and a store bought pie shows a difference of 30 calories. While that may not seem like a lot, that can add up over the course of an entire day (let’s be real: an entire weekend) of eating.

Also, that’s just a generic example. Maybe instead of apple pie you make a different type of pie: a list of the different types of pies and calories.

Out of all the dishes, I read that the green bean casserole actually has some of the most calories out of all the traditional Thanksgiving options, so maybe you switch that for something else.

4. Keep exercising.

This is the big thing that people overlook. They completely quit exercising for the year and swear to start up again in the new year.

If you’ve already decided to binge over the holiday, just decide to start bulking for the season and lift heavy enough to where you actually make that happen. Some tips: read on.

Go hiking. Go snowboarding. Lift weights. Play some football with your family. Keep active don’t just sit on the couch. Take advantage of how empty the gym is during November and December.

5. Drink more water.

I know, this sounds simple. Also, please note I do not mean drink more alcohol, I mean drink actual water. When you work on drinking enough water between rounds of food, you’ll feel full. This, coupled with taking the time to chew your food and eat slower, will prevent that painful oops-I-binged stomach pain.

Keep it simple! Don’t complicate this, and most of all don’t beat yourself up if you binge hard. Spending time with family and finding ways to give back to the world this holiday season is way more important than anything else.

Also, in case I don’t say it enough, thank you for reading this article or any articles I’ve ever written. It means a lot and I am incredibly grateful.

Can You Know TOO Much?

Now that I’ve finished Jim Stoppani’s Superman program (final blog post, thoughts, review coming!), I’ve been looking at the rest of the year.

I know most people in the fitness industry spend time focusing on bulking during the winter months, so they don’t have to stay lean, I’ve been looking at what I want to do.

Bulking is easy. You lift incredibly heavy and you eat everything in sight. Especially if you’re fine with dirty bulking.

However, I’ve been on a mission to detox.

My body, my mind, my spirit. It all needs a good cleanse.

Elliott Hulse had a great video on this recently, about information constipation. Essentially, the keeping of information without letting it flow out of you.

This can be in many forms: learning without sharing, keeping too many books, too many bookmarked websites, and so on.

I dig it because that’s something I’ve been feeling recently. Even with this site and my multiple creative endeavors.

It’s not that I’m doing too many things, it’s that I’m not letting the information flow at a fast enough rate.

Simply put: I know too much. I’ve read too much. I’ve learned too much.

And in that learning, everything has had a hard time formulating into thoughts.

Pumping out content for this blog should be so easy. Fitness has been my life for years. I’ve learned so so so much about it. I’ve put my body through trial and error and although I still have a long way to go, there’s still something to be said for all that knowledge.

Yet, for quite some time I’ve struggled with taking all of that knowledge, compressing it into something to share, and getting it out there. I now understand that it’s because I am keeping too much coming in.

This is also where I believe negative people who know “everything” online come from. They’re so constipated with mental information, but they create nothing, so they hate everyone who can break past it and create something.

My only focus right now is moving to California. That’s it. There’s nothing else that is as important as that. I’ve got to get out of Denver.

What has come with that is laser focus. The ability to see what is helping me achieve that goal and what’s getting me away from that goal.

Learning more is not the answer. Keeping more books is not the answer. Sharing what I know will absolutely get me closer to my goal.

If you’re feeling stuck too, start by giving more away. Sometimes this means sharing knowledge, sometimes this means literally giving your things away, or just start by consuming less.

This election cycle here in America has everyone in a complete emotional and mental messy state, and I can tell it’s making people across the country exhausted and burned out. Taking a break from the 24/7 fear-mongering will do wonders for your brain. (Still vote, though.)