Cruel Intentions by Coach Jared MacDonald

Cruel Intentions

Coach AJ giving client Erin P a little BONUS.

One of the defining young adult movies of the late 90’s, Cruel Intentions starred Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillipe. Why is my fitness coach writing about a dark, emotional 90’s teen movie? We will get to that, first this is not a recommendation to see the movie.

If you haven’t, just don’t. For our interaction all you really need to know is that Ryan Phillipe’s character is a brooding, negative, emotional sociopath that sets his sights on a navie but generally joyful, happy, and young lady going somewhere in Reese Witherspoon.

Spoiler Alert! Reese ultimately prevails, but she goes through unnecessary heartache and difficulty beforehand.

Now, what does this have to do with fitness and wellness? Well, it comes down to intentions. We talk about “What is you Why”, which is a powerful tool to keep you progressing and focused long term towards ultimate desires and goals and useful for getting back on track. Intentions can be used in the moment, for short term efforts. The short term becomes the long term. When you come to the gym for a workout what are your intentions? Most of us would say, “we want to put forth effort, strain our bodies, sweat and work hard”, before we arrive for our workout. What happens to those intentions once the struggle is real? Do you stay positive and focus? I don’t mean fake smiles and pretend it’s easy. I mean, accept that it’s difficult, find conviction to push through and celebrate your effort! It is all too easy to become Ryan Phillipe and look for shortcuts, blame circumstances, sabotaging your mindset and positive intentions. Be like Reese. Accept what is. Face the difficulty and rise above. Below are some helpful suggestions to frame positive intentions and keep them when the work is difficult.

Have a positive mindset: Get your mind right. The warmup is the perfect time for this. The warmup is generally easy and allows you to prepare both mentally and physically for the work to come. Commit to working hard!
Look for mini goals: It is awesome to have big goals and keep chasing them, but it can be easy to become negative and defeated when that goal seems far off in the distance. When I run, which lets just say isn’t my favorite but I’m working on that, I focus on short term distances. Run to the next light pole, hold my pace, run a slightly faster mile. Anything to keep my mind on achieving instead of quitting. You might look to lift slightly more weight on a specific exercise, finish a calorie goal a little quicker, jump a little higher, etc.
Avoid negative talk: This can be both verbal and mental. It is perfectly ok to admit something is challenging or difficult and obviously if something causes pain you should speak up. BUT, words like “this sucks”, “I hate this”, “This is stupid” do nothing positive and make the work even more difficult. Better to put that effort into pushing through than complaining and falling short. Quick jokes and self deprecation are tools I use to reset mid workout.
Celebrate: This goes hand in hand with number 3. Once you find conviction and push through something difficult. Celebrate your effort. Let out a scream, high five a friend or coach, positive energy is infectious! Unfortunately, so is negative :(.

Reflect: After a difficult workout, take some time while you recover and stretch to think about your effort. Did you give great effort? Awesome enjoy the satisfaction and endorphins. If you feel like you could have given more to a workout or exercise commit to giving more next time and move on.

“Intention is one with cause and effect. Intention determines outcome. And if you’re stuck and not moving forward, you have to check the thought and the action that created the circumstance.”- Oprah

“Awakened doing is when you don’t create suffering anymore for others—–or for yourself—-by your own actions. It also implies that your primary intention, the focus of your attention, is on the “doing” in the present moment, rather than the result that you want to achieve through it.” – Eckhart Tolle

The mind is key to success on this journey, and any in journey in life. We will never be perfect but we can chase it with positive intention and effort. Cruel intentions will never succeed in the long term!

Real Talk by Coach Jared MacDonals

Real Talk

Beach body in 30 days! 

Shredded abs in only 8 minutes!

 6 weeks to 15lbs of pure muscle!

 Unfortunately the fitness industry is full of misleading, misguided, and sometimes outright untruthful promises designed to prey upon people’s desire to improve their health and fitness. 

 We are nearing the end of the first month of the new year and passing the half-way point of our Biggest Winner Challenge. I wanted to discuss what real and sustainable change looks like and what is required to see that rate of change.

 I know that a lot of you have put in hard work and things started off great, you probably lost some weight, gained some muscle, but now you may be hitting a plateau. It is easy to become frustrated when the rate of change slows down or stalls. I would encourage you to stay focused and stay the course. Perseverance is what separates those who ultimately succeed and those that fall off the wagon only to start over from the beginning in the future.

 Fitness, like most things in life, is not linear. It ebbs and flows. Persevere and you will succeed, it just might not be as quick or as straight a path as you had hoped.

 My personal weight loss journey was a (wicked) twisted road. First I was 30 years old, father to 2 young daughters and I weighed 200lbs and had lower back issues. I had always struggled to gain weight as a young athlete so this was completely new territory. I decided to change. I got back in the gym, did the same workouts from my youth. I gained muscle mass, but the weight did not budge. 

After 6 months I came to the realization that my workouts and diet needed an overhaul. I did a little research and committed to an aggressive program. I’ll spare the details, but the first 2 weeks were awful and unsustainable. Once I found a balance and moderated my approach I was able to feel great while losing weight. The weight did not come off in a linear fashion. It was like a stair step. 200 to 192. Stall. 192 to 187. Stall. Eventually, 9 months or so later I was down to 175, what I weighed when I graduated high school. I share this to let you know I have been there. I know what that struggle feels like, and it is what led to me becoming a fitness coach. 

Below are statistics from our friends at Precision Nutrition and their research from over 100,000 clients. You’ll see  rates of change for weight loss and muscle gain and what it takes to maintain that rate of change. Hopefully this will give you perspective and the ability to stay the course!

Realistic rates of fat loss per week:

Progress % Body Weight Men Women Requirement

Extreme 1-1.5% 2-3lb 1.65-2.5lb 90-100% Consistency

Reasonable 0.5-1% 1-2lb 0.8-1.65lb 70-85% Consistency

Comfortable <0.5% <1lb <0.8lb 50-65% Consistency

Realistic rates of muscle gain per month:

Fitness level Men Women

Beginner 1.5-2.5lb 0.65-1lb

Intermediate .75-1.25lb .325-.5lb

Advanced .375-.625lb .1625-.25lb

Again, these are trend lines and not linear progressions. Gender, age, fitness level, health factors and host of other variables will affect your personal rate of change. The biggest take away that I see from this research is that you do not have to be perfect or anywhere near it to see a sustainable rate of change over the long term. If you can be consistent 70-85% of the time you will see tremendous progress! 

“Perseverance is stubbornness with a purpose”- Josh Shipp

“Stay the course. When thwarted try again: harder: smarter. Persevere relentlessly.”- John Wooden

This Is How You Determine Success

I’ve got a throwback for you – and one that you’re going to love.

It is all about SELF-EFFICACY, which is basically your success barometer. It’s a trait that can predict how successful you will be!

What makes it even more awesome is that you can build and develop it in a short period of time. It’s almost like a superpower.

Self-efficacy is basically a fancy term for what happens in the children’s story, “The Little Engine That Could.” 

Do you remember it? 

It’s about a train that had to climb a big hill … and at first it wasn’t so sure it was possible. 

It chanted, “I think I can, I think I can,” … which turned into “I know I can, I know I can,” … and eventually it pulled itself to the top of the hill.

Self-efficacy – the engine’s belief in itself that it could do hard things – is what powered that train up the mountain!

In a nutshell, self-efficacy is like self-confidence at the next level. 

It’s the KNOWING that you can count on yourself when the chips are down … and that you can and will do your best whenever possible.

When you challenge yourself and push yourself out of your comfort zone, your self-efficacy meter goes up. 

We teach it to kids, but it falls by the wayside as we get older. 

There can be so many reasons we stop flexing our “self-efficacy muscles” … time, expectations (from others and from ourselves), disappointments, and even fear!

Over time, this can have a profound impact on your life, making it so you don’t even consider trying new things. We give up before we even start!

This is where the “comfort zone” comes in … and over time, that comfort zone can get smaller and smaller (and not very comfortable at all)!

So how do you work on building your self-efficacy? 

You do something that makes you uncomfortable.

It doesn’t mean going bungee jumping or signing up for a marathon. 

It can be as simple (and as powerful) as deciding you are going to stick with a program for a month …

… and then following through with it, NO MATTER WHAT.

Even on days you don’t want to. Even if you’re tired or busy.

Especially when you’re tired and busy. 

There is a huge payoff in all of this. 

You realize everything you’re capable of!

In the words of writer A.A. Milne in Winnie The Pooh, you learn:

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”  –– Christopher Robin.

I KNOW you can do whatever you put your mind to. But do YOU know it? 

All you have to do is decide … and then just do it!  

You’ve got this…let’s get to work!

The Truth About the Process of Becoming Fit


Many of you are training with the goal of 2021 being a new year and new you. First, we applaud your decision and effort to improve your health and fitness, it’s not easy and can be intimidating. We are hopeful that you enjoyed your experience whether it was your first time inside a gym or you are returning after a season away from exercise. We also love seeing our current clients returning from the holiday season and the gym being full of energy again!

I wanted to talk to all of you that are looking for improved fitness. Fitness is a process, and that process looks different for each individual , but there are some truths for everyone. It does not matter what your specific goal is: weight loss, fat loss, muscle gain, improved conditioning and cardiovascular strength, etc. All of them are a process and take time to achieve.

The number one factor in your success is consistency. When we are full of motivation and great intentions there is a tendency to rush that process. Folks new to exercise want to go all out and workout as hard they can as much as they can to speed that process up. While this is a great intention, it has drawbacks and those drawbacks can derail your efforts before you have a chance to see change. I have made this mistake numerous times, even to the point where my arms were so sore I could hardly brush my teeth! Not fun!

If you are new or returning to exercise from a long layoff, your body doesn’t need the same amount of stimulus as someone who has been consistently training for weeks, months, or years to affect change. If you have been working out and have hit a plateau, more is not always the answer either. You may need to evaluate your sleep habits, nutrition, or recovery protocols to ensure you are reaping the reward of your hard work. Strength training and conditioning do not actually build our bodies up, in fact they tear them down. We see improvement from that exercise through recovery and improved strength via new muscle growth or a stronger cardiovascular system from the strain of conditioning. If you neglect your recovery: SLEEP, stretching, foam rolling, low intensity steady state movement on off days (walking, hiking, biking, stair stepper, etc.), nutrition, etc. You will eventually burn out or become injured. The most important recovery protocol is SLEEP. Deep Sleep, usually 1-2 hours a night is where the body repairs itself.

Exercising regularly and failing to get quality sleep is akin to putting money into a bank account with a negative interest rate. You end up going backwards. Below are some tips to make sure you are maximizing return on investment.

“Do your job, trust the process” Nick Saban
Basically, do everything within your control to make sure you are making your workouts. Schedule a makeup, ask for an outside the gym the workout you can do to keep your routine. We are here to help!
Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep.
Prioritizing sleep over social functions, tv binging, or other fun activities isn’t an attractive decision. Don’t rely on will power. Set a schedule and stick to it. Naps are a great way to get in some missed sleep. 20-30 minutes will go a long way toward your recovery efforts.
Aim for 30/60 minute of low intensity exercise/movement on days you do not train at the gym.
You will increase blood flow to sore muscles and fascia, build a routine of movement and improve recovery efforts.
Ensure you are replenishing your body with quality nutrition.
Focus on whole, minimally processed sources of high quality fats, carbohydrates and protein. Eat slow and stop when you are satisfied, not stuffed. Don’t restrict your body with too few calories. Your body needs nutrition for repair.
Keep a bottle handy and drink whenever you are thirsty. Try to drink water throughout the day. Muscles are predominantly water and water helps deliver nutrition and eliminate waste products that build up during exercise.

“We do not rise to our goals, we fall to our systems” James Clear Atomic Habits
Have a system and follow it, refine as needed.

“Rome wasn’t built in day, but they laid bricks daily” John Heywood
Lay your bricks, and then rest. Rinse, repeat. Progress will follow!