Music Strong Goal Challenge 2014

The goal here is to change your daily habits, which will change your life. This is not a quick fix. This is a life change.

Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired with yourself? You vow, seemingly daily, to get back on the right track, to do what it takes, to meet your goals. You know what to do but by the end of the day, you realize you’re exactly where you started or even behind where you started the day instead of making progress.

Are you ready to change that?
Are you ready to meet your goals and even exceed them?

It’s time. Accountability is one of the greatest factors of success. Look at Weight Watchers, they have it on two levels: the honor system where you don’t go over your points each day and your weekly check in.

I’m running an accountability group challenge, starting Sunday February 23. Your goal could be anything: weight loss, fat loss, increased pushups, business success, debt reduction, etc. The goal doesn’t matter, the results do. More information is forthcoming, but if you want in, sign up here. All I ask is that you post information at the beginning stating who you are and what your goal is and why you want it, and every week at least detail the steps you’ve taken towards meeting that goal.


  • If you are pursuing weight loss, use my 10 week article series Get Off the Hamster Wheel! 10 Steps to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.   The list starts with tip #1, it is at the bottom of this page:
  •  If you are using another book for guidance, please list it.
  • When: “registration” is February 23-28. Challenge officially begins March 1 and runs through May 1
  • What is requried?: To join you must state who you are and what your goal is. The goal must be specific and attainable (aka: dropping 100 lbs in 2 months or saving $1M is not attainable, though specific.) Your goal must also have a date. So state your goal in specific terms:

My goal is to Save $1000 and have that amount of money set aside in an account by May 1.

My goal is to lose 20 lbs (or reach a goal weight of XXX) by May 1.

My goal is to be a size 4 in jeans by May 1

My goal is to have read a 1000 page novel by May 1.

My goal is to go through the entire T&G exercise book for flute by May 1.

etc. etc. etc.

All realistic, all attainable, all with deadlines.

  • You need some measure of checking your progress so feel free to post before and after pictures/soundfiles/word documents of yourself/your playing/ your progress/your measurements, etc.


Next, you must name 3 things:

  1. What are you willing to give up?
  2. What small, seemingly insignificant thing are you willing to do each and every day to push you towards your goal?
  3. You must write your goals down somewhere and look at them every day.

Then you come to the group (see below) and post your daily update: what you did, if you failed, what you learned, etc. and everyone in the group will applaud your efforts and encourage you along.

This group is based on the honor system. If you lie, you only cheat yourself.

Prizes: for everyone who successfully completes this challenge (reaches their goal by May 1,) you will receive a month of free online or in person training with me. If I can think of a better prize (or you have suggestions) please contribute!


Are you in?

If you would like to join us, come join the Facebook group and “register” at
Goal Challenge 2014 Group:

The group is only open for one week. After this week you will need to be added to the group to join. How do you do this? Tell me you’re in below, or you can post in the Facebook anouncement on my page:


Top Ten List To Get Off the Hamster Wheel and Be Who You Want to Be

Are you Music Strong?

Whew! I have been traveling so much, there has been no time for updating, sorry!  This last week I was blessed to have been invited to present at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacadoches, TX.  I gave a flute masterclass, a recital, two Music Strong workshops and a presentation on being a musician in the military.  It was a wonderful trip and I had a great time.  It’s always nice to be able to help musicians who are in the prime of their career, just learning how to practice efficiently and being able to give them the tools to prevent injury.  If you were in any of my classes, I would love to hear your feedback and if you’d like a personalized program, we can make that happen too! :)   You can click here for more information on hiring me as your trainer, to write you a plan to keep you injury free,  improve your endurance and extend your playing career.

Some pictures from this week!

A lot of you were asking about the books I suggested during the presentations.  You can find all of these books in my Amazon store.  The titles I highly recommend and used during my presentations are:

The only book that is not available in Amazon is “Inside-Out“. This is my go-to warm-up book, and is available here in the Resources Tab, or you can click here.  Inside-Out

This coming week I will be playing with Sinfonia Gulf Coast in Destin, Florida!  We have a concert on Thursday night at 7:30 PM and I am immensely looking forward to this.   Niche ad

 Sinfonia is one of a handful of American Orchestras awarded a special grant to perform “Identity” Zhongshan Zhuang,” featuring world renowned guzheng player Su Chang. Also on the concert is Rimsky-Korsakov’s brilliant orchestral showpiece “Scheherazade.”

Cheng: Identity: Zhongshan Zhuang
Artist: Su Chang (Guzheng)
Ensemble: Sinfonia Gulf Coast
Conductor: Demetrius Fuller

 Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade, Op. 35    


It will be a busy week – I”m also proud to announce that I will be giving a Music Strong workshop at my alma mater, Florida State University on Wednesday the 23rd at 2:30 PM.

Angela McCuiston Poster


I should be back to my “regularly scheduled programming” within a week.  I will be posting some pictures and videos and will have some more blog posts coming up.  Also coming up I have a 6-week Holiday Shape-Up boot camp special, will be posting details here soon!

In the meantime, my schedule has changed a bit and I have a few spots open for flute lessons via Skype and personal training clients.  Please contact me if you are interested and we can get something started for you!  I have a current special going on that if you would like to sign up for training with me you can save 50% off your first month with me when you sign up for any 3 month package.  Sign up today and you can start next year already having achieved your New Year’s Resolution!



Sinfonia Season Opening Concert: Musical Identities

Really looking forward to this concert! We are one of a few orchestras to get a grant to have this artist play with us and we end the night playing Rimsky-Korsakov’s  masterpiece “Scheherazade”

Concert is at:

Emerald Coast Convention Center
Ft. Walton Beach, Florida
Thursday, 24 October 2013 – 7:30 PM


Sinfonia Season Opening Concert: Musical Identities.

Lyle McDonald’s Books and Body Recomposition

I am constantly referring people to Lyle’s books. From Rapid Fat Loss, to Flexible Dieting to getting in contest ready shape, he is an absolute authority on the science of fat loss, muscle gain, etc.   I’ve put all of his books together in one easy to find place right here.  He also has a free forum you can join to get more information from people using his products, seeking advice and wisdom and chat with the man yourself. His forum is at:

Clicking on each link will take you to a full description of the book including Table of Contents and sample of the first chapter so you really understand what you’re getting and if it’s the right book for you.

Additionally, if you like his products as much as I do and would like to be an affiliate (earning money for referring people to his products) you can do that through this first link: Banner


The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook

The world’s only sane crash diet.  Details when and why it is appropriate.

The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook
About the Book

The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook offers a scientifically based approach to quick weight and fat loss. Recognizing that people need or simply want to lose weight and fat rapidly, I set out to develop the safest, most effective way of accomplishing that goal.
I based the program around the idea of creating a diet that would provide the fewest calories possible while still providing all of the essential nutrients required by the body: protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. This provides simply the safest and sanest way to lose fat quickly without sacrificing health (or muscle mass).

Every aspect about how to set up the diet is laid out in a step by step form and the diet is based around whole foods that can be found at any market. With purchase of the book, you’ll also receive instructions for how to access an online calculator that will set up the diet and provide food recommendations.

As well, the diet also incorporates concepts I’ve discussed on this site: free meals, refeeds and full diet breaks to help with both adherence and the body’s tendency to fight back when dieting. Guidelines are provided for when to take them, how to use them, etc.

In addition, guidelines for moving back to maintenance, as well as for using the program to transition into a more moderate fat loss diet are provided in detail.

Specific training guidelines are also provided in order to provide the best results with the least time investment. Massive amounts of exercise aren’t needed; quite in fact, too much exercise while on the rapid fat loss program can hinder results. Quite in fact, for the extremely overweight, no exercise is actually required to reap the benefits of the program.

The book provides specific recommendations (for everyone from beginners to advanced trainees) for both resistance training and aerobic activity in terms of how often and how much will provide the best results.

As well, realizing that most people can’t or won’t join a gym, I developed a small home-exercise handbook outlining a basic routine that can be followed with no or minimal equipment. This is included with your purchase as a digital download.


A Guide to Flexible Dieting
This is my go-to book with clients, especially those wondering how to “diet” without “dieting”. It’s about learning how to eat less, manipulate your calorie intake the most effective way without eliminating food groups, buying goofy supplements or anything else “fad-ish”.
A Guide to Flexible Dieting

About the Book

The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook offers a scientifically based approach to quick weight and fat loss. Recognizing that people need or simply want to lose weight and fat rapidly, I set out to develop the safest, most effective way of accomplishing that goal.

I based the program around the idea of creating a diet that would provide the fewest calories possible while still providing all of the essential nutrients required by the body: protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. This provides simply the safest and sanest way to lose fat quickly without sacrificing health (or muscle mass).

Every aspect about how to set up the diet is laid out in a step by step form and the diet is based around whole foods that can be found at any market. With purchase of the book, you’ll also receive instructions for how to access an online calculator that will set up the diet and provide food recommendations.

As well, the diet also incorporates concepts I’ve discussed on this site: free meals, refeeds and full diet breaks to help with both adherence and the body’s tendency to fight back when dieting. Guidelines are provided for when to take them, how to use them, etc.

In addition, guidelines for moving back to maintenance, as well as for using the program to transition into a more moderate fat loss diet are provided in detail.

Specific training guidelines are also provided in order to provide the best results with the least time investment. Massive amounts of exercise aren’t needed; quite in fact, too much exercise while on the rapid fat loss program can hinder results. Quite in fact, for the extremely overweight, no exercise is actually required to reap the benefits of the program.

The book provides specific recommendations (for everyone from beginners to advanced trainees) for both resistance training and aerobic activity in terms of how often and how much will provide the best results.

As well, realizing that most people can’t or won’t join a gym, I developed a small home-exercise handbook outlining a basic routine that can be followed with no or minimal equipment. This is included with your purchase as a digital download.

Applied Nutrition for Mixed Sports

If,  like me, you enjoy several different types of activity with completely different nutritional needs ( for me it’s weight lifting and cycling) then this book will help you put together a solid nutrition plan to meet both needs.

Applied Nutrition for Mixed Sports

About the Book/DVD

Applied Nutrition for Mixed Sports examines the topic of nutrition for what are referred to as mixed sports. This includes almost all team sports along with many individual sports such as boxing, mixed martial arts and some track and field events.

Basically any sport that has requirements for both endurance and strength/power is considered a mixed sport. Because of the often odd nature of performance requirements, optimizing nutrition for these sports often presents problems that aren’t seen in either the pure strength/power or pure endurance sports.

The book, as well as the accompanying 2 DVD set, approaches the problem in an applied fashion building up the topic of nutrition from the ground up to present a comprehensive examination of how mixed sports athletes can optimize their nutrition.

This product started life as a seminar I did in Vancouver at Simon Fraser University in 2009 for their football and soccer teams on applied sports nutrition.  But rather than just slap the DVD together with the handouts and slides, I decided to write a complete stand alone book (derived primarily from the handouts).  Of course, the original DVD seminar is included along with the Powerpoint slides and the full package includes everything shown below.

Please note: The DVDs have no regional encoding and should play on any DVD player or computer with DVD capabilities.

The Protein Book

How much protein do you really need? This is a question that gets bantered back and forth by fitness professionals and the answer is “it depends”.  This book will answer all those questions  definitively for you.

The Protein Book


The Protein Book


About the Book

The Protein Book is a comprehensive look at the issue of protein intake for both strength/power and endurance athletes. Coaches looking for the latest scientific developments in terms of optimizing protein nutrition for their athletes as well as athletes looking for answers to their questions will find them all covered in complete detail.

Questions about protein such as “How much protein do athletes need?”, “What’s the best protein?”, and “When should protein be consumed around training for optimal results?” and many others are asked continuously by both athletes and coaches looking to optimize their sports nutrition.

As with most topics pertaining to sports nutrition, the answers to the above questions are context dependent. The type of sport, the goals of the athlete, the specifics of the situation all determine how much protein is required, what protein might be optimal, etc. No single recommendation can possibly be appropriate for all athletes under all situations.

With over 200 pages and over 500 scientific references, no questions about optimal protein intake for athletes remain unanswered.


The Stubborn Fat Solution

We all have stubborn fat, the last layer of protective padding and if you are trying to get lean for competition, photo shoots, etc. this will help you out.

The Stubborn Fat Solution


About the Book

The problem of stubborn body fat (typically the abdominals/low back for men and hips and thighs for women) is one that lean dieters have been trying to deal with for decades. Various simple explanations (typically involving estrogen) have been offered but the results from these simple approaches have been, at best, poor. This is a place where simple is simply wrong.

As it turns out, stubborn fat is stubborn for a number of inter-related physiological reasons, all of which conspire to make its elimination difficult (and for some, seemingly impossible). The Stubborn Fat Solution is the first book to scientifically examine the causes of stubborn body fat in extreme detail. From receptor type and number, blood flow, the propensity to both store and release fat, the physiology of stubborn fat is dissected in detail. The role of hormones and diet is also discussed.

Of course, all of the physiological verbiage is useless without solutions and The Stubborn Fat Solution provides those as well. The book describes four specific protocols aimed at optimally mobilizing and burning off stubborn fat.

While the protocols are primarily training based, the impact of diet on stubborn fat loss is also discussed and information on how best to incorporate the four protocols into your current training and diet program are examined. And while none are required, several beneficial supplements are also discussed.

Please note: Like The Ultimate Diet 2.0, The Stubborn Fat Solution is aimed at lean dieters trying to achieve extreme levels of leanness. Until men are 10-12% body fat and females are ~15-17% body fat, the information in this book is not necessary (although it will still be informative).


The Ketogenic Diet

Are you into low-carb?  This is for you:

The Ketogenic Diet

About the Book

Very low-carbohydrate (aka ketogenic) diets such as The Atkins Diet, Protein Power and The South Beach Diet have come and gone repeatedly over the years and there is currently great research and real-world interest in their effects. Unfortunately, altogether too much misinformation exists regarding them.

Folks who are pro-low-carbohydrate diets tend to present them as the quick and easy solution to everything including obesity. Easy weight loss without hunger or calorie counting is promised but never seems to pan out as well as we might hope.

At the other extreme are the anti-low-carbohydrate folks who tend to present low-carbohydrate diets as nothing short of a nutritional disaster being perpetrated by a bunch of con men.

The truth, of course lies somewhere in the middle. While low-carbohydrate diets aren’t for everyone and have their pros and cons, the research is clear: they have major benefits under certain circumstances and can be as healthy (and sometimes healthier) than ‘standard’ carbohydrate based dieting.

The Ketogenic Diet is the first and only book to objectively examine in-depth the scientific evidence regarding low-carbohydrate/ketogenic diets. It is meant to be a reference manual for low-carbohydrate diets; it is unlike any other book on low-carbohydrate diets that you have ever read or seen.

Covering every topic in extreme detail, The Ketogenic Diet addresses everything from the basic physiology of how the body adapts to a low-carbohydrate intake, the details of human fuel utilization, the impact of low-carbohydrate diets on body composition and many, many more.

Of course, none of the above is useful without practical application guidelines. Details on how to optimize low-carbohydrate diets for different goals (such as fat loss, bodybuilding and endurance performance) are discussed along with three distinct types of low-carbohydrate diets. In addition, the book includes a complete discussion of resistance, aerobic and anaerobic exercise physiology along with specific training programs for different goals and different levels of trainee

At 325 pages and containing over 600 scientific references, this will be your complete reference for ketogenic diets.

Please note: this book does not include information on the ketogenic diet for adolescent epilepsy (the topic is discussed briefly). I highly suggest The Ketogenic Diet: A Treatment for Epilepsy, 3rd Edition (Paperback) by Freeman, Freeman and Kelly (link will take you to page).


The Ultimate Diet 2.0 (UD 2.)

Advanced Cyclical Dieting for Super-Leanness
The Ultimate Diet 2.0

About the Book

When trying to diet to extremely low levels of body fat, muscle mass and performance loss, crashing hormones, runaway hunger and others are perennial difficulties that the non-genetic elite (or natural) dieter has to face.

The Ultimate Diet 2.0 (UD2) provides the answer to all of those problems and more. Building on previous cyclical diets such as the original Ultimate Diet by Dan Duchaine and Michael Zumpano, as well as Bodyopus, the UD2 includes a full discussion of the physiological hurdles that dieters must clear to reach their goals of extremely low body fat levels.

Based around cutting edge research into bodyweight regulation, calorie partitioning and more, The Ultimate Diet 2.0 is a coordinated program of training, nutrition and supplements that will let the most genetically average individual sidestep the problems I mentioned above.

Every aspect of the training cycle, what to eat, how to train and what supplements to take are described in detail. As well, modifications to the diet for different goals are described as well. Variations for powerlifters, endurance athletes and those seeking mass gains are detailed as well.

Please note: the UD2 is an advanced diet for advanced dieters and is only for those seeking very low levels of body fat. A male should be at 12-15% body fat or lower and females at 21-24% body fat or lower prior to considering the UD2. As well trainees must have at least 6 months of consistent training in the weight room under their belt before they even consider the UD2.



An old drug with new uses

About the Book

Bromocriptine is a dopamine agonist drug (meaning that it acts like dopamine in the brain) that has been used for over three decades for the treatment of a number of conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, acromegaly (the disease Andre “The Giant” had), and overproduction of the hormone prolactin. You may be wondering what this has to do with the topic of body composition.

As I discuss in many of my articles and other books, the body regulates factors such as body weight, composition and appetite through a variety of hormones such as insulin and leptin. It turns out that those hormones exert at least part of their effect through dopamine levels in the brain. When people diet, dopamine levels drop in the brain and this is responsible for many of the effects (such as lowered metabolic rate, increased hunger, etc.) that occur.

My book Bromocriptine starts by outlining the systems that regulate body weight and fat levels before explaining how the drug bromocriptine can ‘trick’ the body into thinking that it’s not dieting so that metabolic rate doesn’t slow, hunger is decreased, etc. Side effects, dosing and everything else related to the drug and how it can be used for various purposes related to body composition are outlined in detail in the book.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Defining the Problem
Chapter 2: How your Body Knows
Chapter 3: Leptin Resistance
Chapter 4: Bromocriptine
Chapter 5: What Bromocriptine Does
Chapter 6: How Bromocriptine Works
Chapter 7: Using Bromocriptine, Part 1
Chapter 8: Side-effects and Risks
Chapter 9: Using Bromocriptine, Part 2
Chapter 10: Miscellaneous Miscellany
Appendix 1: The FDA and Bromocriptine
Frequently Asked Questions
References Cited


In addition to all this, you’ll see that on his page he gives a $10 discount for buying 2 or more books. The first two books I ever bought from him were “The Rapid Fat Loss Solution” and “The Guide to Flexible Dieting” and I use them to this day in reference for myself and my clients.  I cannot recommend his products highly enough.

My Favorite Pre-Workout Supplement

Pre-workout supplements are all the rage and have been for awhile.  Back when I worked at Vitamin Shoppe BSN’s N.O. Explode was our most popular seller, followed right up by USP Labs Jack3D.  N.O. Xplode got the job done but the taste!!! *shiver*  You will literally shiver because it’s so strong. Jack3D is good too, with less bitterness and I love the fact that it has less fillers, only things that are really proven to work: Beta-Alanine, Creatine, Caffeine….you can see my take on what supplements you REALLY need here.

EXCLUSIVE: Jack3d – USP Labs – Only $29.99 & FREE SHIPPING! – Pre-Workout Formula

But one supplement that has stayed with me throughout all of this is a drink called Celsius.  I started drinking it back when it was bottled in glass bottles and they still had the Ginger Ale flavor (please make it again!  Tasted EXACTLY like Ginger Ale).  The product got a makeover, they bottled them in cans and sold them by the 4-pack and suddenly I’m addicted.  I literally drink them almost every single day.

The Claim:

Burn up to 100 calories more when combined with exercise.  Celsius is way more than an energy drink as studies show Celsius may reduce body fat, increase endurance and provide greater resistance to fatigue (increased energy).* These were the results for participants, who drank a Celsius once a day during the 10-week study. On the days they exercised they consumed their daily Celsius 15 minutes prior to exercise.



I dare you to find another energy drink backed by research!

Several scientific studies have been done on using this product in conjuction with exercise. From their website:

Thermogenic Scientific Studies

Seven scientific studies have been conducted on Celsius by U.S. accredited scientific research facilities according to strict scientific standards. To ensure consumer confidence, trust, and industry independence, the studies were presented at scientific conferences and published for peer review.

Celsius Has Thermogenic Properties

All of the clinical studies show that Celsius has thermogenic properties. Thermogenics are substances that increases metabolism and push the nervous system to be more active. This speeds up body functions such as heart rate and breath rate. In turn this causes you to burn more calories than you normally would. The increase in metabolism from thermogenics results in the body burning fat as fuel.

The scientific studies were conducted on the Celsius product as a whole, not just the ingredients contained in Celsius. This is an important distinction. The multiple studies show that drinking Celsius results in burning calories and providing lasting energy. When drinking a great tasting Celsius before exercise, Celsius reduces body fat, increases endurance and provides greater resistance to fatigue (increased energy).* Even better, Celsius has evidence of many consumers that have gotten real results. Read the stories from REAL PEOPLE who have gotten REAL RESULTS.

7 Different Clinical Studies! 

Download Thermogenic Scientific Clinical Studies:

Besides all this they actually taste REALLY good. The Cola flavor is unacnnily like cola, but my favorite is definitely the Sparkling Wild Berry.

Ready to try it?  They’ve got lots of different coupons out right now here are some:

(I’ll definitely be participating in this since it’s 1) cheaper than buying retail and 2) saves me from having to pick it up at the store every few days)


Top 10 List to Get to Who You Want to Be


So you’ve made it through all 9 weeks and here we are at the last week. I originally said there would be 9 steps, but turns out there are 10, though you may feel 10 is optional I want you to give it some serious thought.

Have accountability and take responsibility

What does that mean?

1. Take complete responsibility for your actions

This means that you have a choice, and that choice is up to you, that in every situation you can choose how to act, how to react and how to be. Even when it isn’t fair, when you don’t like it, when it was wrong, you take responsibility for it. Examples I use in everyday life, change your way of speaking:

  • “I didn’t make time to practice” instead of “I didn’t have time to practice”
  • ” I didn’t do it”
  • “I didn’t prioritize”
  • “I chose to…”

All these ways of speaking signify that you are taking responsibility for your decisions and your actions.  When you say things like:

  • “I didn’t have time”
  • “I can’t”
  • “It’s easier for someone else”
  • “When I get organized I’ll…”
  • “Someday I’ll…”

All those statements do is make you a victim.  You are NOT a victim. You are a product of all YOUR choices.  Dare to disagree with me here.  If you don’t like where you are now, change it, do something different. But just whining and wallowing self-pity will continue to keep you where you are.  Yes, you may have had less than ideal circumstances in your life.  So?

Change it. Do it now and start taking responsibility.  If you want it, go get it.  If you didn’t do it, own it.


“Successful people are willing to do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do.” – Jeff Olson



A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.” – John Burroughs

The predominant state of mind displayed by those on the failure curve is blame. The predominant state of mind displayed by those people on the success curve is responsibility.

Taking responsibility liberates you; in fact, it is perhaps the single most liberating thing there is. Even when it hurts, even when it doesn’t seem fair. When you don’t take responsibility, when you blame others, circumstances, fate or chance, you give away your power. When you take and retain full responsibility – even when others are wrong  or the situation is genuinely unfair – you keep your life’s reins in your own hands.

“Responsibility is declaring oneself as cause in the matter. It is a context from which to live one’s life.

Responsibility is not a burden, fault, praise, blame credit, shame or guilt. All these include judgments and evaluations of good and bad, right and wrong, or better and worse. They are not responsibility…

Responsibility starts with the willingness to deal with a situation from and with the point of view, whether at the moment realized or not, that you are the source of what you are, what you do and what you have.

It is not “right,” or even “true”, to declare oneself as “cause” in the matter. It’s just empowering. By standing for yourself as cause, “what happens’ shifts from “happening to you” to “just happening and, ultimately, to ‘happening as a result of your being cause in the matter’. – Werner Erhard



accountability2. Have Accountability:

What does this mean?  It means having someone generally, that you tell your goals and your plans to and that you will check in with, letting them know your actions.  Writing things down is a form of self-accountability.  Having an accountability partner is a trusted friend, and you tell them when you have done what you said you would do or when you haven’t done what you said you would do and they hold you accountable.

If you say “I will exercise 20 minutes every day, get 8 hours of sleep and cut out all alcohol. Will you hold me accountable?”  Your partner will ask you (ideally every day) : Did you exercise?  How long did you sleep? Did you drink?

And you have to answer truthfully.  If you say no, they can get on your case in a loving way to remind you of why.

So to recap over these last 10 weeks, these actions, done consistently over time will change your philosophy, they will change your habits and your habits will change YOU

The book I have been referencing and basing some of these blog posts around, The Slight Edge, has this to say:

“Wait a minute. How are these simple, everyday actions supposed to create all this wonderful happiness, health and success for me, if they’re all easy to do – if anyone could do them? If these are things anyone can do, why are only 5% successful?
Excellent question. Because they’re all easy not to do – and while anyone could do them, most won’t.

Every action that any of these goals requires is easy to do. Here’s the problem: every action that is easy to do, is also easy not to do.

Why are these simple yet crucial things easy not to do? Because if you don’t do them, they won’t kill you…at least, not today. You won’t suffer, or fail, or blow it  – today. Something is easy not to do when it won’t bankrupt you, destroy your career, ruin your relationships or wreck your health – today.

What’s more, not doing it is usually more comfortable than doing it would be. But that simple, seemingly insignificant error in judgement, compounded over time, will kill you. It will destroy you and ruin your chances for success. You can count on it. It’s the Slight Edge.

That’s the choice you face every day, every hour.
A simple, positive action, repeated over time.
A simple error in judgement, repeated over time.
You can always count on the Slight Edge. And unless you make it work for you, the Slight Edge will work against you.


Top 10 List to get To Who You Want to Be




Get Off the Hamster Wheel! Tip #9 to Change your Body and Your Life

How successful were you at writing things down last week?  Did you do it every day? Most days?
What were your results, reactions?  Were you surprised by how much, how little or the reality of what you were eating?

If you remember, the goal of last week was not to JUDGE what you ate, simply to make note of it.  Now that you have a record of the TRUTH you have a choice to stop living in denial about how much and what you are putting in your body and actually change it…..or to keep running around on the hamster wheel of denial, blame and quick fixes.

Brutal? Yes. But sometimes the truth is brutal. That’s why you were on a hamster wheel in the first place and not getting results before isn’t it? The answer is yes if you are actually truthful with yourself.

If you’ve noticed, I haven’t mentioned exercise at all, and isn’t that one of the first things people jump into when they say “I’m going to get in shape!”  Yup, and one of the first things to go because most people will start out with the mentality that “more is better” and do too much. Then, they don’t see results quickly enough (or instantaneously) get discouraged because they thing the amount of “work” they are putting in should yield instant results….and quit.

By now, you know what I’m going to suggest is neither instantaneous nor hardcore nor extreme.  Just like everything else, it’s simple: easy to do, easy NOT to do.  The choice is up to you:

Tip # 9:  Do some sort of exercise everyday….or most days.

Getting in shape does not mean:workout to exhaustion

  • running 5 miles every day
  • joining a Crossfit gym
  • doing P90X or Insanity for 30 days straight
  • Doing every weight machine in the gym 100 times, every day.

There is no extreme here.  There is nothing wrong with the above workouts, if you LIKE doing those, great! But the catch is this:
Do not start the above workouts JUST to lose weight. YOU WILL FAIL. 

What I did say is do SOME SORT of exercise every day, or at least most days.  What does that mean?  It means:

  • Do something you enjoy
  • make it consistent
  • get your heart rate up

That’s it.

The point here is consistency, and it doesn’t matter what you do.  Let’s address these three aspects in short detail:

1. Do Something You Enjoy

If you hate lifting weights, don’t.  If you hate running, don’t. If you hate yoga, don’t!

The point is not do a workout because some trainer told you to, or some person on the TV, internet, doctor’s waiting room, buddy of your best friend’s gym owner told you to. DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY!

Some examples of good fitness that make people happy, that they enjoy:

  • Going for a 20 minute walk around the neighborhood or through a park, or a mall
  • Ultimate frisbee
  • cleaning the house (I don’t understand this one, but some people enjoy it, so whatever :) )
  • yoga
  • hill sprints
  • tabatas
  • bodyweight circuits
  • lifting weights
  • bike riding
  • swimming
  • running

Any of these are great.  If you enjoy it that’s the key, you will not stick with an exercise routine you hate, so do something you enjoy!

slight edge


2. Make it consistent

I cannot stress this enough.  It is not the exercise that you do, it’s that you do it regularly that counts.  Slow and steady wins the race, right? Not really, it’s STEADY THAT WINS THE RACE.

I’ve heard this a lot, but it really hit home when I read the book The Slight Edge. 

This book has really opened my eyes to how to achieve what I really want in life.  It comes down to consistency, doing the little, seeminly tiny insignificant things every day that are easy to do but are also easy NOT to do.  Jim Collins talks about it in his book “Good to Great” about pushing the giant flywheel.  It weighs so much there is no way possible for you to give it one giant push and it turn, no, it’s steady effort that builds momentum.

I’ll say that again.

It’s steady effort that builds momentum.

An overnight success does not happen overnight. It happened over the course of the years of obscurity, doing the tiny right actions every day.successcurve


This is the success curve.  Take a close look at it and see if you can understand why consistency is key.  Then make a plan for what TINY action you can do every day to help you reach your goal.  Want to run a marathon but never done it before? It starts with taking a few steps every day, going for a walk every day, building your time, it doesn’t start with a 5 mile run.





3. Get your heart rate up

The key to exercise is elevating your heart rate.  Do you see the people on the treadmill sauntering along? It’s not different than the pace they take to walk to their car, walk around Wal-Mart or take up the entire aisle in a mall.  (I secretly want to smack these people in the back of the head.  I have always moved with a sense of purpose and being in the Army just amplified that urge. Sorry :) )

Any way, the point of exercise is to elevate your heart rate, this accomplishes all kinds of things including better respiratory response, increase oxygen flow to lungs, brain, blood, etc. better joint mobility,  etc. If you do not elevate your heart rate, you aren’t exercising.  Don’t kid yourself.

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to go all extreme and elevate it through the roof, I just said elevate.  Anything above what it is when you’re sitting there doing nothing (called resting heart rate) is elevated.  Now eventually you will want to put more effort out there, because your body adapts. It adapts to stress, to exercise and to everthing else so what is challenging for you now will not be challenging later IF YOU ARE CONSISTENT.  That’s why you ladies lifting only 5 lb. weights in the gym bother me.  It worked for you then….and then your body adapted and it’s no longer a challenge. You are wasting time at that point.

Sorry to get on a soap box, but as a personal trainer this is the area that frustrates me the most.  If you like extreme, great, do that but please work up to it, or face injury. If you don’t like extreme, great, do SOMETHING.

This week’s goal:

So, the challenge this week is that while you are building on the blocks of consistency you’ve achieved in your eating habits, you will add one very small addition of consistent exercise.  Whatever it is, commit to doing it every day or almost every day.  That”s the caveat. If you are lifitng weights or doing aything strenuous, don’t do it 7 days a week, your body will not recover. If you are just going for a walk, that’s fine for every day.

  • Do some sort of exercise you enjoy every day
  • if your exercise is strenuous (like crossfit, weight lifting, etc.) do something on your “off days” that at least keeps you moving.

We are not trying to set records here, all you are doing is building cosistency in your exercise habits and getting used to moving every day.  Progression comes later.




If you haven’t read the other tips in the series, they are meant to be read in order.  Start here:

The 9 Things you need to do to change your habits and get off the hamster wheel!

Get Off the Hamster Wheel! Guide To Change Your Habits Tip #8

If you haven’t read last week’s post, you can do so here: Get Off the Hamster Wheel Tip #7

We are down to the last few tips, and you know, I really struggled with this week’s and next week’s tips, trying to figure out which should happen first.  It came down to this:

Which small action do I have the hardest time doing?  And that’s how I picked Tip #8 which is:

Tip #8 WRITE IT DOWNfood journaling

I know you’ve probably heard this hundreds of times before, and that’s great, you’ve probably heard all the other 7 tips as well.  The point of change comes not by KNOWING what you need to do but by DOING it.

The task here is to start a food journal.  Write down every bit of food that goes into your mouth.  What I find is most helpful is if I write down my mood/hunger level before and after I eat as well, which can help me tune into my hunger cues, if I’m really eating for hunger or to satisfy another need, as we talked about last week.

The simple task of taking the time to write down what you eat and take the few seconds to actually see it all on paper can bring huge amounts of awareness to your eating activity.  Heck, this action alone has stopped me more than once from eating anything else, just because I didn’t want to have to write it down, to see it on paper, because when you write something down it becomes real.  Have you ever noticed that? There are certain things in life you don’t want to say out loud or write down because then you are faced with the reality of them, sometimes we think that if the thoughts stay inside our heads, they never happened.

Commit to having fanatical levels of integrity on this one.

Why?  Because when you start being honest with yourself in this one area, you can’t help but have it spill over into other areas of your life as well.  Do not cheat yourself, do not lie to yourself.  Make this commitment to yourself that for at least the next two weeks you will start writing down everything you eat and your mood and hunger level before and after.  You do NOT need to do this the rest of your life, I don’t want this to become an obsessive habit (and boy have I been there with this one, I’d even get anxious that I’d forget to write it down because I didn’t have my notebook with me! ) what you are doing is bringing awareness to your actions.  If you’ve stalled for awhile on your progress, go back to doing this and see what you find out.


I was perusing TJ Maxx awhile back and found a great journal. I really like the structure of having things laid out for me and this week, I commit to using it, consistently.  That’s the key, being consistent in your actions.  So, I’ll take it with me, leave it in the kitchen, etc. (The picture above is of said journal)

If you’d rather not hunt every TJ Maxx around, you can just get it here on Amazon as well: Buy the Ultimate Diet Log Here.

There are several other methods, I know a lot of people like FitDay, My Fitness Pal and Spark People, and I’m cool with those too, heck, whatever floats your boat! I don’t want you to get caught up in the trap of counting calories, though, and these sites do that.  That’s why I”m a fan of simply putting it on paper, worry about the numbers later!

So now, with all those great habits you’ve put into place: drinking more water, eating undisturbed, having vegetables at every meal and focusing your diet on whole foods, Eating exactly what you want, stopping eating when your satisfied, eating when you’re hungry – not to meet an emotional need…. now you can put all of those into reality, by putting them all down on paper.  This simple activity solidifies your activities into reality and makes them become habit.


If you haven’t read the other tips in the series, they are meant to be read in order.  Start here:

The 9 Things you need to do to change your habits and get off the hamster wheel!


Get Off the Hamster Wheel, Guide to Changing Your Habits Tip #7

Getting right to the point this week, this of course builds on last week:

Tip #7. If you think you want to eat, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Am I really hungry?
  2. What do I want to eat?  If it is a sweet ask yourself this
  3. Could I be satisfied with a healthier option, protein or a meal instead? If the answer is no, ask yourself this
  4. Do I really want this or am I craving this because I want something non-food related? Am I trying to meet an emotional need with food?
  5. If the answer to that is yes, have the courage to treat the emotional need and the craving will go away.

A craving is a signal that you are in need, the proverb is that somewhere along the way we got our remedies confused. When we were young and we wanted comfort, we would run to get a hug, play with friends when we were lonely, eat when hungry, drink when thirsty, cry when sad, invent games when bored and sleep when tired. Somewhere in the course of growing up we found out that just because we needed something we didn’t always get it, so we turned to food, activities or maybe even drugs, whatever gave you pleasure to meet those needs. We confused pleasure with meeting needs. To change your habits you have to go back to the source: identify your real need and have the courage to meet it instead of substituting food (or other things) for the answer.

When I started asking these questions I REALLY got somewhere.  I found that 7 times out of 10 I wasn’t really hungry.  Bummer.  I like to eat, but my hunger levels are actually much smaller than I think.  When I found I had a craving for something I’d ask “what do I really want?”  Am I trying to meet an emotional need with food?  Most of the time I found out, yes, I was.  I was either lonely, stressed, anxious, bored or tired.  In fact, tired was a big one.  A lot of times I found myself wanting to eat because I needed energy.  The answer for that? I thought “ok, I can  either eat for energy…or why am I tired? Not enough sleep, so GO TO BED! Whatever you’re doing can wait, and you’ll do it better tomorrow anyway!”

Easier said than done right? Maybe, but maybe not, you will never know till you try. It can be very empowering to meet your own needs correctly, it lets tug know on a deep level that your needs ARE worthy of being met, that you know enough to know what YOU want and can actually satisfy yourself. Tug don’t need permission. Sometimes we get caught in child mode, even subconsciously, and having the courage to identify what it is when you have a craving and WHY can empower you to change your habit of eating for comfort to being comforted by a movie, a walk, or another person. Don’t be afraid to go there, ours really worth it.

So this week everytime you want to eat ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Am I really hungry?
  2. What do I want to eat?  If it is a sweet ask yourself this
  3. Could I be satisfied with a healthier option, protein or a meal instead? If the answer is no, ask yourself this
  4. Do I really want this or am I craving this because I want something non-food related? Am I trying to meet an emotional need with food?
  5. If the answer to that is yes, have the courage to treat the emotional need and the craving will go away.


If you haven’t read the other tips in the series, they are meant to be read in order.  Start here:

The 9 Things you need to do to change your habits and get off the hamster wheel!

Get Off the Hamster Wheel! Guide to Changing Your Habits Tip # 6

So what’s the story on the last week?

Did you eat yourself into oblivion with cookie dough/doughnuts/chips and cheese, etc.?  Do you look like the Pilsbury Dough Boy?
Are you sick of eating your “vice” or “nemesis food”?

Did you find that this was easy to do or difficult? My guess is difficult.  When I finally started allowing myself to eat what I really wanted, I was afraid I’d eat it all, but just having the freedom to say yes to myself was liberating.  This week’s habit changing tip can help you adapt to your new-found freedom:

Habit-Changing Tip #6:  Stop eating when you’re satisfied.  hungerscale

If you go back to Tip #2 you’ll remember you learned to eat un-distracted. Your hunger cues should be stronger now, you should be more aware of when you’re actually hungry, which, in turn, means you’re actually more aware of when you’re NOT hungry, when you’ve had enough.  And there is a difference between being satisfied and being full.

Satisifed is subtle, full is unmistakeable.  You will blow right past the feeling of being satisfied if you eat while distracted and eat quickly.  This is where the thought of eating slowly because it takes 20 minutes for your brain to realize you’re full kicks in.

But I’m not telling you to stop when you’re full, that’s when you ate too much.  Sometimes we just want to keep eating because it’s SOOOOO good, or we don’t get that particular food very often (think Christmas, birthday or Thanksgiving).  However, more often than not it’s just mindless eating, or eating to fulfill some other need that has nothing to do with food, but food keeps you occupied, gives you pleasure. If you don’t have pleasure in any other area of your life, or limited areas, food can become a drug, an addictive habit.

So the challenge is this:

This week, while you are drinking your water, consuming your whole foods, fruits and vegetables and eating EXACTLY what you want, you are to continue to eat undistracted, as often as possible, and focus on HOW DOES THE FOOD MAKE YOU FEEL?  When you allow yourself to acknowledge this you will know when you are satisifed and you can push the plate away, finished or not, because you might find out you were just eating that much food because your husband/boyfriend/friends/family conditioned you to eat that much or everything on your plate when really, you don’t actually want it all.

This is the other liberating principal:
While you can eat what you want, you don’t have to eat it if you don’t want to either. :)

Feels good to give yourself that freedom doesn’t it?

Leave your comments below and let us know what you’ve found out. What does satisfied feel like for you? Do need more or less food than you usually consume? Were you surprised?


If you haven’t read the other tips in the series, they are meant to be read in order.  Start here:

The 9 Things you need to do to change your habits and get off the hamster wheel!

Get Off the Hamster Wheel! Tip #5

So how did last week go? Did you have an easy or a hard time incoropoarting more whole foods into your diet?

I know that for me, when I’m on the run, it can be more difficult.  So I ALWAYS make leftovers and then night before the next day I pack my lunch,  I include my piece of fruit, my vegetables and some sort of protein and snacks (if I pack them) are structured the same way: Greek yogurt, nuts, Quest Protein bar. :)

Today’s tip might come as a bit of a shock, or at the very least seem somewhat backwards, but stay with me on this.  This week’s habit changer is:

Habit-Changing Tip #5: Eat What you Want, what you really willywonka

I know I know, it sounds backwards, right? Isn’t that what got you to where you are in the first place? Maybe, maybe not.  It seems that more often and not, not only have we forgotten our hunger cues and we don’t undertand when we’re really hungry, we’ve also been conditioned to eat according to someone else’s rules:

  • Eat every 3-4 hours
  • Eat only after noon, in an 8 hour window
  • Carbs are bad! Stay away from carbs, eat only fats and proteins
  • Fat is bad! Eat a low-fat diet, throw away those egg yolks, have your salad plain and your toast dry
  • Too much protein will damage your kidneys, stay away from protein!
  • Breakfast should be the biggest meal of the day,you need lots of carbs for breakfast!
  • Stay away from sweets! If you eat ice cream you’ll get fat! Step away from that brownie!
  • To lose weight you HAVE to be on a diet
  • All things in moderation….(what???)

And on and on and on it goes.  We have been conditioned, over the years to have no idea what our bodies are telling us it needs, or what we really want.  Sooooo many times I have found that when I listen to my body, and calm down for a second, I can hear my body tell me what it wants “yes, chicken sounds nice, nah not in the mood for beef or fish. I don’t think I really want rice, that would be heavy right now, but a sweet potato sounds heavenly…oh oh oh! and Green beans please!”

When was the last time you heard THAT conversation?

More than likely your last conversation with your body over food went something like this:

“I REAAAALLY want that brownie. No, no I don’t. I don’t need it, it will make me fat, I should eat vegetables. I like vegetables, I like how they make me feel…..but they aren’t sweet.  Maybe I can have just a bite, just one, just a piece…NO! If I do, I can’t stop! I know myself  I do’nt have willpower!  I SHOULD eat CLEAN. I should eat chicken breast and brussel sprouts, with no oil, because oil is bad….but that would taste dry, like cardboard.  I should listen to what I really want, what do I really want? I want a brownie. Yes, yes I do……”stuff face

And on and on THAT goes.

More often than not, when I step back from that internal dialogue and ask myself “do I really want a brownie”? If the answer is yes, I’ll ask “am I hungry still?”  If not, it usually means I’m trying to meet a need with food.

But won’t I get fat if I eat what I want?

Maybe.  Probably not.  Geneen Roth writes some EXCELLENT books on this subject (that’s all another tip for another week), I highly recommend her books if you even suspect you have food issues.  Truth is, you can only eat so much cookie dough before you get sick of it, even if you eat it every day. And you know what, eventually your body starts screaming at you what it really wants, because hey, you say “I want_____” and you go eat ______ and then what?  You find out if that really satisfied you or not.

The point is, if you are having food issues and any food is “off limits” what do you think you crave? THAT FOOD. Have no forbidden foods.

I mean this with all my heart. I am so sick of hearing “I can’t have it in the house! I’ll eat it all!”  So do it.  Will it kill you? no.  Will a junk food bender kill you in a week? No.  You might feel like crap but I guarantee you’ll get sick of it.  I speak from experience.

What is your forbidden food? The food you LOVE but can’t have it near you or you’ll eat the whole bag?  Go get lots of bags of it.  Pretty soon, you’ll realize it’s always there, you won’t run out and you can have it whenever you want it.  Sometimes, just knowing you CAN have it whenever you want it takes the craving away.

Make no mistake, this takes a lot of courage. But what you are doing is staring your demons in the face and saying “I know best for me. No one can tell me how to eat better than myself. No one knows me like I do.  I know what I should eat”.

You’re not a toddler anymore getting spoon-fed carrots. You can make your own decisions and eat what you want. 
This gets into a lot of psychology but I can tell you from experience, this works.

The next few tips, I’m going to go ahead and give them to  you in a sneak peak because they make this easier:

  1. Stop eating when you are truly satisifed. Not stuffed, satisfied. And if that food doesn’t satisfy you, eat what does.
  2. Figure out if you’re eating to meet hunger or an emotional need.

You CAN have that brownie/cookie/doughnut, etc. but ask yourself this, am I hungry?  If the answer is no, more than likely you’re trying to meet an emotional need with food.








If you haven’t read the other tips in the series, they are meant to be read in order.  Start here:

The 9 Things you need to do to change your habits and get off the hamster wheel!

Get Off the Hamster Wheel Tip #3 and #4

Yeah, the title is different, it was just too long to type out and this one is catchier, no?

So, how did the week go?  If you haven’t read last week, go read the last two weeks first, then come back here.

Tip #1: Stop Being In A Hurry, Drink Water

Tip #2: Turn Off the TV, Put the Book Down

[ More ]

9 Things You Need to Do to Actually Lose the Fat, Get the Body You Want and KEEP IT! Tip #2

If you haven’t read the first post, go here: Getting Off the Hamster Wheel: Tip #1


How successful were you at last week’s challenge? Were you able to drink more water? The amount you needed to drink? Were you consistent? Was it harder than you thought to not do anything else goal-wise?

Thought so. :)

By now, you’ve probably noticed how naked you feel without a water bottle, how you want to drink water more often, how food actually tastes different when you are properly hydrated…which brings me to this week’s tip:

Tip #2. Focus on doing nothing but eating when you’re eating.  eating_over_computer-300x300

No, really, when it’s time to eat, eat.  Pay attention to your food, how it tastes, your level of hunger or fullness, if it actually satisfies you or not.  This goes perfectly in hand with my next tip, but you’ll have to wait till next Monday to get that one. When was the last time you sat down to eat, by yourself, with no book, no phone, no computer, no TV, nothing? Probably a long time. Scenery is wonderfully relaxing, if you can go outside in the sun to eat your lunch, do so. If you can’t, doesn’t matter. The point of main importance here is to focus on your food, and that’s it.  I recommend doing this alone, as when you talk with people you end up eating more than you might otherwise. A lot of people have trouble eating alone, are you one of them? How does eating alone make you feel? With no distractions? Lonely? Bored? Scared? Peaceful? Take note of these emotions. If you have a journal to write in, make a note of these things:

  1. level of hunger before you ate
  2. how you felt while eating
  3. level of satisfaction after you ate

These are huge keys to tell you if you are using food to help with your emotion or are really eating out of hunger.

I want you to take this entire next week and for every meal you have make it a goal to:

1) sit down to eat (standing distracts you)

2) eliminate all distractions: no books, no phone, no tablet, no TV

3) as you eat concentrate on the taste, sight, smell and texture of your food.

4) as you eat, notice what emotions come up as you eat alone. Whatever comes up, don’t run from it, acknowledge it with interest and maybe even curiosity, but don’t run. you feel this way for a reason. Find out what it is, later you can find out why.

Things you might notice as you get used to eating this way:

  • you begin to enjoy your food more
  • you tend to eat less
  • your appetite isn’t as big as you thought it was
  • you are able to recognize satisfaction
  • you chew more slowly
  • you feel calmer and enjoy things around you

Aren’t these all things we want anyway?

So, building upon last week’s challenge of drinking enough water (did you hit 4 liters? How many days?) this week, you will continue to drink your water goal and add the goal of every time you sit down to eat, you do nothing but eat. To meet this goal, my family tends to turn on the TV, I’ve had to leave them and go outside…it was a beautiful day outside and I enjoyed my dinner much more in the sunshine listening to birds than being ignored while everyone watched TV. I doubt they tasted their food and not only did I enjoy mine, I was satisfied with less.

Make note here, your goal is not to eat less, your goal is to eat without distraction.  Whatever that means, find a way to do it and let us know how it went. What were your findings? Did it freak you out and now you enjoy it?  Good luck and I’ll see you next week for the next tip!


Got a ways to go on this path, but enjoy the journey, there's no hurry. Doesn't food always taste better with great scenery?

Got a ways to go on this path, but enjoy the journey, there’s no hurry. Doesn’t food always taste better with great scenery?



If you haven’t read the other tips in the series, they are meant to be read in order.  Start here:

The 9 Things you need to do to change your habits and get off the hamster wheel!

9 Things You Need to Do to Actually Lose the Fat, Get the Body You Want and KEEP IT! Tip #1

How many times have we all done it?


A dozen?

A hundred times?

How many times have we said to ourselves “ENOUGH! I have had enough of being fat, and feeling gross and my clothes not fitting….(insert frustration of choice here)”.  We start that minute with iron-willed resolve, only to have it seem a distant memory 4 hours later when hunger strikes and a co-worker brings in cupcakes “for no special reason”.hamster wheel

And we do it again and again the next day.

We may find ourselves resolving and failing, picking this diet after that diet, seemingly going nowhere on the hamster wheel….do you ever wonder what you’re doing wrong?  WHY isn’t this working?

A wise man once told me some VERY wise words that stuck with me.  That the reasons I couldn’t stick to my “diet” of choice was because:

  • a goal is just a goal, when it’s accomplished it’s not sustainable, that’s all it is, a goal.
  • when the mindset is about obsessiveness or restriction, the mindset is unsustainable…therefore so is the weight loss
  •  If you keep this all being about your weight – then the goal itself is faulty still – the goal should be “the healthy way” you just outlined and the process it takes to finally understand and apply that kind of wellness training – from there the weight loss really takes care of itself

His words resonated with me.  I finally understood. But I still didn’t know what to do. I knew that having a Diet, or restriction or just aiming for a number or even a look, was unsustainable.  What I outlined to this wise man (Scott Abel in case you were wondering, I want to make sure to give him credit!) was that while yes, I wanted to be smaller, I wanted to be lighter, what I wanted MOST was to CHANGE  MY HABITS.

You see, I knew my habits got me to where I was. I recently lost 10-15 lbs going through some grief and trauma in my personal life.  Was I happy about it? Actually, yeah, but was it sustainable? No, because I didn’t really change my habits.


How to Change Your Habits

I was listening to The Fitcast Podcast the other day and Kevin was interviewing Dan John. He is a brilliant man, for anyone who doesn’t know. Something that stuck with me was how he said there was a man who lost over 100 lbs over the course of a year, and the first month, the only thing he did was to drink more water.  That was it, his ONE goal for the month.

Did you catch the profoundness of that?   This man had an audacious goal. The goal in and of itself was not the problem, goals are wonderful. What he did was NOT BE IN A HURRY TO GET THERE.  That way, he didn’t obsess over the journey or get frustrated and quit, he said, I have a lot to lose, so to start, I need to start doing something small, something manageable, something I’m not already doing…..and the weight began to come off.

And so this is what I plan to be doing. For the next 9-10 weeks or so, I’ll bring you another installment of the top 10 list (it might not actually be 10, we’ll see :) )

Pre-Change Step: Don’t Be In A Hurry

Before you embark on this journey you need to be really ok with this not being done quickly. It might end up going quickly for you but if you go at it with the intention with this happening quickly, you will be right back to where you are now.  Your goal here is to change your habits, and they change neither quickly nor easily.  So understand it might take you a 2 weeks to get #1 under your belt before you can proceed. It might take you a month.  So what? If you want to do this right once and for all, stop being in a hurry and actually make these habits stick. How long it takes for everyone is different. Be patient with yourself.

This should really be a 1 Liter Nalgene bottle...

This should really be a 1 Liter Nalgene bottle…

Step #1. Drink more water.
Yeah, it sounds simplistic, but come on, how much water do you really drink and how much do you think you should be drinking? I give most of my clients the range of a minimum of 1/2 your bodyweight in ounces of water to 4 liters. Why 4 liters? Most of us are chronically dehydrated and if 4 liters is your goal, even if you only get 2, you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished so much and done really well, and you have, it’s more than you were drinking before.

(Side note: while it’s very convenient to get a gallon milk carton jug and drink out of it all day…please don’t be that guy. It screams “look at me! I drink water, I’m special!” You’re doing this to change your habits, not annoy others or get attention)

That’s it.  That’s your challenge.  Why is it a challenge? Because you’ll think it’s too easy, it’s too boring and you’re good at multitasking so you will want to do 2-3 new habits at once.


Please trust me in this.  You haven’t been successful yet so what do you have to lose?  I did this myself and while I am a better water drinker than most, my problem (and probably yours too, if you’re honest with yourself) is consistency.  I do not CONSISTENTLY drink enough water, and so it took me the better part f 2-3 weeks to get that first part down.

That’s it!  Best of luck on your new journey!  Put your comments down below and let us know how it’s going for you: is it easy? Is it harder than you thought? Have you noticed yourself being bored with trying to stick with just adding more water to your diet? Let’s hear the feedback and see you next Monday!

Tips on Teaching by Skype « Music Teacher’s Helper Blog

Tips on Teaching by Skype « Music Teacher’s Helper Blog.

I have been giving flute lessons via Skype for going on 3 years now.  I have found it an incredible asset and a great tool for teaching.  I can say now, that with this many years behind me, what I have learned, both good and bad, and I”m glad to see another article on it as well.

Biggest lessons:

Teaching via Skype is not best for beginners

One of my first students was a third grader. I’m teaching her to this day, however, things were REALLY difficult in the beginning.  With her not being in band class or having any other musical outlet, she didn’t understand rhythm, beat or counting.  When she was old enough to join music classes she immediately improved and it’s not a problem anymore.  However, not being able to be there in person and be able to touch her, to help her feel the beat, or even be able to physically move her fingers when she was fingering a wrong note was immensely difficult.  Because of this, I open my Skype lessons only to advanced middle school and up.

You HAVE to have a fast internet connection and a good webcam.

I have had some horrendous lessons because the student lived in the middle of nowhere and their internet connection was spotty.  The first few lessons were fine, but after that things started to get ugly.  You can’t have a flute lesson over the phone, which without video, is essentially what Skype is.  If you want Skype lessons, go for FAST internet connection and have a good webcam.  You won’t be able to see music over the webcam otherwise and vice versa.

Do your billing via automatic PayPal billing.

This is a lifesaver. Because with Skype lessons you generally don’t have to worry as much about school being out, snow days, etc. lessons go on on a pretty regular basis.  All of my Skype students live in different states from me, currently I have 3 in Florida and 1 in New Jersey.  I have a one that prefers to have me invoice them and they have their bank cut me a check, and for some families that works best. However, I’ve found out that having your students sign up via PayPal automatic billing takes a HUGE hassle out of the payment process. Their card is charged every month on the same day for the same amount. This ensures continuity on everyone’s end and there’s no worry about “oh I forgot the check this week, can I mail it you later?”

With these things in mind Skype lessons can be a really viable option and I’m glad I’ve been doing it for so long.  It definitely gives students an opportunity who might not otherwise have it, to have lessons.

What do you think of our website? Be honest…

I have had this for awhile now and as my business has grown and changed I feel that it may not adequately serve my audience.  My business is a niche business which creates the unique challenge of presenting information on music/flute/fitness/training all in one place and not getting confusing.

Having several services to offer is really great, but I want to make sure that you, my audience, are able to navigate it easily to find what you want.

For example, I have a TON of articles I’ve written, and I direct people to go look at them rather than re-explain all the time.

  • If I asked you to find “The Flutists Pain Points” article, would that be easy?
  • If you were looking for  information on flute lessons, booking me for a wedding or a workshop, would that be easy to find?
  • IF you’ve been to one of my workshops and want to grab some equipment from the site, were you able to find where to go?
  • If you’re a flute student and I mentioned that “you can get that book from my Amazon store on my website” can you find it?

All these questions can be answered by doing two things.

  1. Take a look around this site. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, use some of the questions above to give you a destination
  2. Click on this link to take my 11 question survey to tell me what you really think:   No, really, be honest!

That’s it!

I REALLY appreciate your feedback, and if you are at all savvy in the web designing world and have tips for me, I’d love to hear those as well.  If you want to be super helpful, you could even share this newsletter via social media and help me even more.


You can take the survey here:

Protein Peanut Butter Cups?

Ok, so while I still have special love in my heart for Power Crunch Bars, I have a new favorite protein bar, and they’ve come out with something amazing, peanut butter cups!

2013-04-02 16.47.59

The cups have the same amount of calories (I think) as Reese’s, but 20g of protein! I dare you to find that anywhere else.  Oh, and did I mention they’re VERY good, and filling.

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2013-04-02 16.48.11






The chocolate chip protein bars are my current fave of theirs.  The coconut cashew is still really good, but this one beats it out.  If you didn’t care for the other Quest bars, go ahead and order one (that’s another great thing  about them, you can just order ONE bar and you don’t have to buy a box!) and see if you like it.  They have similar macros to the other Quest bars but they taste VERY different.

You can order your Quest Bars here.  And did I mention they give you a 10% discount if you sign up for auto-delivery?  Pretty sweet deal. :)

Try Quest Protein Bars!

Music Strong at University of Chattanooga

Yesterday I had the wonderful privilege of getting to present a 2-hour workshop to the students and faculty at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga.  Special thanks to Dr. Heather Small for organizing this event.  We had a great turnout and lots of class participation.  It was amazing to see how almost everyone had an ache, a pain, an injury previous or ongoing and lots of questions to go with it.  I gave out assessments in front of the class and we were all able to learn what to look for when it comes to muscle imbalances in ourselves and our fellow musicians.

We did some body awareness training, corrected some erroneous body maps, learned some self-myofascial release techniques for the chest, neck, calves and TFL and then engaged in some sample exercises.  I mentioned a few articles in the workshop, the direct links to them are here if you would like to read them:

There are many more covering what I talked about more in depth – if you just type in what you are looking for in the search box at the bottom of the page (or click on the tag in the cloud to the right) they should come up.

If you are interested in purchasing some of the equipment we used, you can get that here:

I really would have liked to have had a bit more time to go through the exercises and done some assessments with people with their instruments, there would have been room for this in the 3-hour presentation, but we do what we can, right?  If you’d like an assessment from me (with or without your instrument) we can still set that up via Skype – it’s free and just takes  a few minutes.  From there I can tell you your possible muscle imbalances and what you should and should not focus on when it comes to strength training and stretching.
I’ve got a few more workshops upcoming – would you like yours to be on the list for next year?  Plans are tentatively being made to visit TX, GA and MI, I would love to add you to the schedule!   Email me if you’re interested and you can get more information on the workshop page.

Keep It Simple!

Have you seen my latest article up on  There is a plethora of valueable information and articles up on this site, be you a flutist or not.  Here is a sneak peak at my latest article, which you can view in its entirety here:

In it, I discuss the basic principles in designing a workout program.  K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple (Stupid)

From the article:

Happy New Year!

Welcome to the time where people make resolutions on all kinds of things; from losing weight to saving money. If you’ve made any kind of health related resolution this year, I commend you! There’s no time like the present to make your dreams become reality. By the time you read this, you may have already long given up on your goals, or you may have kept at it, but feel lost at how to go forward. In previous posts I’ve talked about what types of exercises are best for flutists, but how do you put those together into a program? How do you have any idea how much to do, how many exercises, how few?

Rule #1: Don’t focus on overload.

What does that mean? While there are plenty of times that overloading your body and your muscles can get you the results you want, in the flutists case, let’s focus on the areas of concern: not getting injured, and building endurance and strength to allow for the demands of playing longer times without
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Upcoming Middle Tennessee Flute Days

There are two excellent opportunities for growth, learning and fun for Middle Tennessee Flutists coming up VERY soon!

January 26, 2013

Middle Tennessee State University Flute Festival


Guest Artist: Kate Lukas
Guest Artist Biography:

KateLukas is Professor of Flute at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. She is a former faculty member of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (awarded the distinction of a Fellow of the GSM&D) in London and of the Royal Academy of London. She is the former principal flute of the Santa Fe Opera Company and has served as guest principal flute with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. As a proponent of new music, she has worked with Berio, Xenakis, Elvis Costello, Thomas Ades, Birtwistle, Maxwell Davies and many other prominent composers while a member of the Composers Ensemble and Music Theatre Wales. Lukas has performed numerous broadcasts of solo and chamber music repertoire for the BBC, Radio France, and regional German radio stations. She has commissioned works through the Arts Council of Great Britain and recorded for Nimbus and Wergo. She received a Fulbright Fellowship in 1968 to study in England.

Schedule of Events

8:00 a.m.

8:30 a.m.

9:00 a.m.

9:30 a.m.

10:30 a.m.

11:00 a.m.

11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

1:00 p.m.

2:15 p.m.

4:30 p.m.

Registration  (Wright Music Lobby)
High School and Junior Solo Competition warm-up and rehearsals begin

Opening Session: (Hinton Hall)

Exhibits Open

Morning Session with Guest Flutist, Kathryn Lukas
(Hinton Hall)

High School Solo Competition (SFA 117)
Junior Solo Competition (SFA 101)
Orchestral Excerpts Competition (SFA 208)

Festival Flute Choir – All ages welcome!
(Hinton Hall)

Lunch Break
Visit the exhibits!

Guest Artist Recital
Kathryn Lukas, flute; Lillian Pearson, piano
(Hinton Hall)

Masterclass with Kathryn Lukas
Competition Winners will be announced
(Hinton Hall)

Final Concert
Featuring High School and Junior Competition Winners, Festival Flute Choir, and more!
(Hinton Hall)

Other Information:

There are also Junior High and Senior High Solo Competitions with cash prizes to be won!  See the website for more details on this.


Tennessee Technological University Flute Day 2013

Flute Day Flier:

February 2, 2013

Guest Artist: Katherine Kemler
Guest Artist Bio:

KATHERINE KEMLER is the Charles and Mary Barre Professor of flute at Louisiana State University, flutist with the Timm Wind Quintet and a regular visiting teacher at the Oxford Flute Summer Schoolin England as well as at the Academie Musicale lnternationale de Colombes,near Paris. She has performed as a soloist in England, Poland, Italy, Slovenia, France, Switzerland, Canada, China, Puerto Rico, Australia, Ecu;dor and throughout the U.S., and made solo broadcasts on BBC Radio 3 and National Public Radio. She has performed at twelve National Flute Association Conventions. She studied with Robert Willoughby at Oberlin and Samuel Baron at SUNY, Stony Brook.

Schedule of Events:

8:30-9:30   Registration and Visit the Exhibits

9:30-10:00    Group Warm-Up Session (Everyone Plays!)

10:00-11:30   Master Class
11:30-1:00     Lunch and Visit the Exhibits

1:00-2:00     Guest Artist Recital – Katherine Kemler

2:00-3:00     Masterclass

3:15-4:00      Group Discussion

4:15 -5:00    Flute Choir Reading Session (Everyone Plays!)


J.L. Smith and Co, Carolyn Nussbaum Music and Pearl Flutes will exhibit a variety of step-up and professional flutes, head joints and piccolos for all to try.

More information about TTU Music Department can be found here:

Tonal Imagination – Overcoming Focal Dystonia with Dr. Roger Martin

This article comes from my former flute professor, Dr. Roger Martin, the Professor of Flute at Tennessee Techonological Unviersity in Cookeville, Tennessee, where I got my Bachelor’s in Flute Performance. During my last few years there, we knew he had started to develop a strange problem – his fingers wouldn’t do what he “told” them to do. We knew he was immensely frustrated with this and I am so glad he has written about his experiences. Focal Dystonia is a mysterious and much misunderstood problem and I reprint his article here with his permission.  You can find out more about the TTU Flute Studio by going to their website:

They have an upcoming Flute Day as well, Saturday, February 2, 2013 with Guest Artist Katherine Kemler from LSU.  Exhibitors on hand will be J.L.Smith an Co, Carolyn Nussbaum Music and Pearl Flutes.

“Tonal Imagination” an article by Dr. Roger Martin

The week before I was scheduled to perform the Liebermann Concerto I began to experience a host of technical problems that had not been there before.  My left hand in particular felt wooden and unresponsive.  “What’s up?!  I’ve already performed this piece four times!”  In practice, I zeroed in on the problem areas and willed my fingers to do their job but feeling for the finger combinations seemed to increase the difficulty.  The day of the concert arrived and with desperate determination I forced my way through the performance. I subsequently made an appointment with a well-respected hand specialist who told me, “Yes, from the symptoms you describe I would say that you have focal dystonia. I asked him if my condition would get better or worse and if there was a treatment, and he told me the symptoms would continue and there were no known treatments.

That was four years ago. I am still playing professionally, though with some technical constraints. I’ve had some very helpful coaching from David Leisner but largely this is a story of mind over matter. The key for me to staying in the game is a focus on tonal imagination.  Mastering an instrument requires complicated physiological recipes and I realized that I had been splitting my attention about 50/50 between the sound I was producing and the physical sensations of creating it.  The dystonia pulled my awareness even further toward the physical but I began to realize that my technique worsened rather than improved as a result.  When I ignored my hands and put all my attention on hearing the motion of pitches there was some improvement.  It became clear to me that concentrating on the sound itself was critical.

I had been to a hypno-therapist in the past for help with control of nervousness during performance.  She explained that hypnosis could not make me do anything I didn’t want to but was just an “umph” for my best intentions.  Whether placebo effect or not, the session helped me with my nerves so I decided to put the technique to work on my focus of attention on sound.  I wrote a script for the hypno-therapist to read to me while I was “under” which said, “I now hear each note clearly before I play it and allow my body to produce the music in the most effortless way possible.”  The act of setting my intention in a script may have proved as helpful as the manner in which it was delivered.

Now came the practice of truly hearing before playing.  I began by singing each passage with accurate pitch, checking myself by playing along on the piano.  At first, I took rhythm out of the mix and sang in long tones.  I realized that passages which were too fast for me to sing accurately at tempo still benefited greatly from this approach.  If I had a tendency to play a wrong note it was because I wasn’t hearing it accurately.  Another plus was singing melodic lines (in rhythm) with exaggerated dynamic shaping.  Back on the flute, I produced the shape much more easily than before I had sung it.

The next step was being able to hear a note in my mind’s ear while I was playing the note preceding it.  I remembered an exercise from Top-Tones for the Saxophone by Sigurd Rascher titled “Tonal Imagination” which deals precisely with this skill.  This is a long-tone exercise of ascending fifths and descending fourths (D-A-E-B-F#-G#…).  Rascher prefaces the exercise with some important instructions, “The deliberate imagination of a tone is as concise an activity of the mind as the imagination of a triangle with clearly defined properties, such as size, shape, color, etc.  In regard to a tone, such properties might include pitch, loudness, quality, timbre, stability, duration, etc.  To activate the mind to the point of ‘imagining’ a tone in surrounding stillness is relatively easy.  However, when another tone is heard at the same time, this is more difficult.”  He continues, “In the case of our exercise, that means I play the D and, after having identified my tone ‘imagination’ with this pitch, gradually (thinking, that is!) ascend to A.  …We ought to think this A so vividly that we have the experience of realistically hearing a fifth.  This accomplished – and not before – we change our fingering to play A.  …Tone imagination and acoustical sound must match.”  The diligent application of this exercise can be a revelation into the true meaning of tonal imagination.  I apply it to whatever passage I am working on and practice imagining qualities of color, volume and vibrato once I can imagine the pitch, doing this in long tones before reinserting the rhythm.

Despite my best intentions there are times when I hit the wall of frustration, my internal dialogue turning negative and self-abusive.  Perhaps you have had the same experience.  Allowing the inner critic to run wild can become a habit that is debilitating.  I went through a particularly difficult time with this in graduate school when my inner voice never had anything positive to say.  It finally occurred to me that the inner critic had value – if I couldn’t imagine my playing being better, then I would never improve.  The challenge was putting the critic in perspective.  I couldn’t stand to tell myself that the way I was playing was good but I began to acknowledge when a passage was improving, that I was heading in the right direction.  This gave me a sense of there being light at the end of the tunnel and helped me to see my inner critic in a more positive way.  A phrase I later learned from Eloise Ristad (author of A Soprano On Her HeadCover of "A Soprano on Her Head: Right-Si...) also helps me to fend off debilitating frustration, “Don’t get mad, get information!”

The issue of internal dialogue bears close examination.  In his book, The Inner Game of Tennis, Timothy Gallwey gives us brilliant insight into how our minds work with our bodies and if you have not read it, do so.  Most of us have had the experience of internal dialogue intruding during a performance, giving us directions on how to play mixed with judgmental comments and random thoughts.  It’s distracting and rarely beneficial.  Let all of that internal verbiage go and focus on tonal imagination.  Easier said than done, right?  This approach helps me – every time the inner voice intrudes, I think, “Thank you, but listen to my sound.”  I return my attention to what I am hearing in the moment and to tonal imagination.  Calmly continue thanking your inner voice each time it steps in and shift your attention back to listening.  No need to waste energy being aggravated by the inner voice, simply shift your focus again and again.  This has really helped me to improve my concentration during performance.

During practice it is imperative to examine how things are going, to stop and think about our goals and to formulate methods of achieving them.  Internal dialogue in this case is a given but I have noticed an insidious manner of addressing these concerns; we hear something we disapprove of and say, “Don’t do that.”  “Don’t go flat on the release, don’t rush, don’t be sharp on the high note, etc….”  Ever heard of the philosophy, “What you pay attention to, you get more of”?  It struck me that this habit of telling ourselves not to do what we don’t like is keeping our attention on the problem, thereby perpetuating it.  “Yuck, my sound is airy.  Don’t be airy.  Is it still airy?  Yes.  There’s the air.  I hear it.”  Instead, say, “Listen to the clear part of my sound.  Give all the air to the clear.”  Try it.   Train your internal dialogue to say what you want rather than what you don’t want.  If you are a teacher, be aware of your phraseology when giving suggestions and make a point to move the students’ attention toward the actual goal.

In moving my own attention toward the goal of regaining fluid technique, focusing on my hands and fingers was counter-productive.  Putting the spotlight of awareness on the feeling sensation of technical execution made things worse.  Splitting my awareness 50/50 between the physical and the aural didn’t work anymore.  So, if focusing on the physical didn’t help, I might as well try pushing my awareness in the other direction to see if this proved more beneficial.  These days, I constantly remind myself of the script, “I now hear each note clearly before I play it and allow my body to produce the music in the most effortless way possible.”  It is an ongoing battle but there is no doubt that I get the best results when I ignore the problem and focus on the true goal: sound.  I can only suppose that this approach will prove even more serviceable to those with healthy hands.  Allow the observer part of you to step back and assess your own ratio of awareness on the physical compared to awareness of what you are hearing.  Make a commitment to improving your tonal imagination.  The results can only be rewarding.                                 Roger Martin – January 2006

When You Don’t Know What to Do, Just DO!

Ah…..the wonderful feeling you get from relaxing, taking a break, doing nothing…

Which can turn into the feeling of “ugh, I feel awful for doing nothing for so long!”

And there are few things more wonderful (to me) the the feeling of working out after a LONG break – remember how the muscles feel to be used, the feeling of effort, of strain, of strength coming back.

Ah yes, working out is good.

But sometimes, you don’t have a plan. Or the plan you were doing you realized, just doesn’t fit you, fit your schedule, fit your life anymore, so then what?

Sometimes, it’s better to just DO and figure out the specifics later.  Sure, you can have a periodized, progressive training plan that will help you reach your goals, but sometimes, it’s ok to ignore it, or when you’re inbetween programs or if you don’t have TIME to do that program, just doing something is better than nothing.

Today, I give you two options.

The first is from NASM and is a bodyweight circuit training program.  This is great if you want something you can tailor to the amount of time you have, you don’t particularly care what you do, you just want to MOVE.

nasm circuit training

You can go through this as many times as you want – or you can go through it once and call it a day.  Either way, you’ve got something on paper that will get your heart rate up and make you feel good about yourself.

Option 2:

This is a template that you can use with whatever time, equipment or space you have available.

A1. Vertical Push
A2. Vertical Pull
A3. Horizontal Push
A4. Horizontal Pull

  • If you have the equipment to go really heavy, first set, do anywhere from 1-5 repetitions depending on how heavy a weight you have. Go as heavy as you can with good form.  Rest 1 minute in between sets.
  • Second set: decrease the weight slightly (or, if you only have bands and no varying weights, change the tempo so that the tempo goes a little faster) and increase the reps to 8-10
  • Third set: decrease weight or increase tempo even more and go 15-20 reps.

Options: add in 30 seconds of plyometrics at the end of each round: Jump squats for example.  So, a sample dumbbell routine using different weights might be:

A1. Standing DB Shoulder Press Set 1: 5 reps 25 lbs.   Set 2: 10 reps 15 lbs     Set 3: 20 reps: 10 lbs
A2. Romanian DB Deadlift
A3. DB Floor Chest Press
A4. Bent Over DB Row

Option with bands:

A1. Kneeling Band Shoulder Press    Set 1: 5 reps  slow tempo (4 up, hold 4, down 4)    Set 2: 10 reps mod tempo (222)     Set 3: 20 reps quickly but controlled (111)
A2. Kneeling Band Pull Down (need door attachment for band)
A3. Band Resisted Split Squat
A4. Seated Band Row (around feet or in door)

And of course you can always add in some things for fun like bicep curls if you feel like it :)

I should make mention here that this can be done for upper body alone, or you can take the planes of motion and apply them to lower body, thinking “quad dominant (i.e. pushing)” or “hamstring dominant (i.e. pulling)”

Bodyweight version more emphasis on lower body:

A1. Bodyweight Squat (set 1: see tempos listed above, etc.)A2. Kneeling Bodyweight GHR
A3. Walking Lunge (with twist, kick, in place, around the clock, with step, take your pick!)
A4. 1-legged Hip Thrust

(links are to videos)


Enjoy and let me know your favorite (“Just Do It” Workout!)

Seasons of Life

I find myself in a bit of a strange and unknown time of life for me.  My personal life is in total upheaval, and it being the beginning of a new year (and a personal trainer to boot) I am surrounded by  expectations to make resolutions, encourage others to lose weight, “tone up”, set those goals, etc. etc. ad nauseum.

I don’t want to do any of that, quite honestly.

I have no desire to set resolutions, goals or any of that.

This is not meant be a depressing post, this IS meant to bring light to the fact that if you choose the beginning of the new year to set your goals, that’s great.  If you choose to set your goals on a random Thursday in March, that’s also great.

Circumstances in your life sometimes happen irregardless of the time of year.  The holidays are usually a really happy time, surrounded by friends and family and is a time to take a break from life, and relax, reflect on what’s really important.  This year, I think has been the saddest holiday season of my life and being surrounded by others touting their New Year’s Resolutions is more annoying than anything?


Because right now, I’m not focused on goals, I”m not focused on fat loss, I’m not focused on being productive.  All of my efforts are focused on getting through the day, waking up, surviving.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  Grief happens and when you are confronted with true grief, nothing else seems to matter.  The fact that my grief was intensified during this holiday season, is actually a blesssing, as I have time to mourn on my own time and not have to push it aside because I have a job to do.  Most of my students are out for break and therefore, I’ve been allowed to mourn on my own time.

This fall I moved to Nashville, and it has been one of the most wonderful things to happen to me in a long time. I’m doing what I love to do: teach, play, train, and God is good to bless me with this because during this time, my personal life took a curveball I could never have seen in a million years.

I found out that the man I love, the man I committed my LIFE to, is not real.  Or maybe, he is real, but only sort of, and the man I fell in love with is gone.  You see, I found out that my husband doesn’t suffer from depression, like he and his whole family told me, I found out he suffers from Schizophrenia, Narcicisstic Personality Disorder, possibly Bi-Polarism and Codependency with his mother.

engagement 081

The man I fell in love with.



What schizophrenia looks like. How he has changed...

What schizophrenia looks like. How he has changed…

I have known for awhile something strange was going on with him, and we fought more than most couples, but I have zero experience with marriage or mental illness, especially of this magnitude.  Suffice it to say, this fall has been full of blessings and sorrow.  Thank the Lord for giving me a job I love, an income to take care of myself, family to surround me and a counselor to guide me through reality – to guide me out of the fog of lies his family (and possibly he himself, though I don’t really know what he knows is real) wove around me as truth, and into the reality of truth….which has been devastating.

I love this man with all my heart….I hate the actions of his family. I hate the actions his illnesses have caused him to take and I hate the choices he is making.  I don’t know what the future holds – I do know that I have a God who loves me and watches over me, guiding my life and will never forsake me.  I know I am now surrounded by truth and people who tell me the truth and I can see my in-laws lies for what they are, and this makes me so, so, so sad.  I am still committed to this man, till death, even though his mother has convinced him (in his acute psychotic state) that he doesn’t need me, I don’t love him and she will take care of him.  She has convinced him to come off his anti-psychotic medicine and now I am so so so afraid for him, because he is surrounded by lies with no way to see the truth. Regardless of the actions he has now taken to get me out of his life, I’m committed to him – because I am the only one who loves him. I was the only one who did what needed to be done to make sure he was safe….and I am demonized for this.

I understand that this is an intensely personal post, and I might get chastised for “airing my dirty laundry” ,but I don’t believe in hiding, and I don’t believe in providing fodder for gossip mills.  If you want truth, please ask me, and if I am able, if I want to share, I will tell you. If not, please be respectful of the heartache we are going through and not gossip. My blog is usually for positive, informative posts on music and fitness, and I realize this does not fit those molds. I also hope that my baring the situation to you, my audience, will be used for good, and not for shunning or ostracization.

Bad things happen to good people, and just because someone’s life isn’t perfect, doesn’t mean they should be shunned or thought “they can’t do their job”, or “maybe I should ask someone else”.  Let me tell you, I am grieving, feeling what I feel when I feel it, and facing reality as best I can.  Training my clients and next week being able to go back to teaching all my students, I hope, will be a welcome relief from the grief.  You see, my jobs force me to put my attention on someone else, something else other than my situation and that is always good.  It allows me to share, to help, to continue relationships with people and friends and students all in a healthy way.

So, it’s New Years.

I don’t know that I’m going to be one who says “this is going to be the best year ever! Good riddance to 2012!” and you know what?  That’s ok. :)

Cliche as it sounds, the truth is that I don’t know what the future holds, but I DO know Who holds the future, and that’s good enough for me.

So, will I be making goals and resolutions?  More than likely, just not right now.

Can I help you make your goals and give you a plan to follow through on your resolutions?  Absolutely!  There are few things in the world that give me as much joy as helping others and sharing with others.  Playing and training others accomplishes both of those goals.

So if you see me, and I look sad, you know why.  But you also know it won’t be forever. Don’t feel like you have to say anything about this post, or knowing about my situation, it’s quite all right for me to know that you know, and know that our relationship will go on in a positive way, continuing to share my knowledge and love of what I do – helping to make you stronger, or a better player.  Hugs are fine, smiles are fine, “I’m so sorry for what you’re going through” is fine, not addressing the situation at all is also fine. Just know that things will work themselves out gradually, and you’ll know when I’m fully back to my old self, scarred or not.

I look forward to helping YOU meet your goals this new year. And if you don’t have goals, that’s ok too. :)

Flute Day 2012

Flute Day 2012 was a HUGE success!  Thank you so much to everyone who helped me make this happen.  Special thanks to Liz Pritchett Vergili and Altus Flutes for giving us the space to use. Thanks to Dr. Jessica Dunnavant for helping me to organize and know how to pull this off. Thanks to Dr. Roger Martin from TTU and Dr. Deanna Little from MTSU for being guest artists, sharing their knowledge and expertise with all who were in attendance; your presence was priceless!  Many thanks also to those vendors who helped with the goody bags: JL Smith and Flute World for their catalogues, Carolyn Nussbaum Music for the sticky pads, Music and Arts Cool Springs for the coupons and Flute Specialists for the goody bags themselves, catalogues and the wonderful prizes we were able to give away!

Everyone had a great time and we had attendees all the way from beginners to adults.  I hope to make this a yearly occurance, and if you were there I would love to hear your feedback on what you liked, didn’t like, loved, would like to see, etc.  If you would like to sign up to be on the mailing list for next year, you can do so FREE here:
Enjoy the pictures from the day!

Foam Rolling Class in Hermitage, TN!

I’m very excited to announce I’ll be leading my first foam rolling class at Next Level Strength and Conditioning in Hermitage, TN.

It’ll be 30 minutes of self-massage and just like a good massage, you feel pain followed by relief, difference being YOU are in control of the pressure. You’ll leave the session feeling more relaxed (or possibly more energized), with increase range of motion and better mobility.  Come every week and see a decrease in pain points and other areas of concern.

Best of all?  You get a workout at the same time.  Foam rolling can be done as a warmup, cooldown or a workout in and of itself, what other modality can claim that?

Come and learn proper technique and leave feeling happy.
Where: Next Level Strength and Conditioning, Hermitage, TN

When: Thursday nights at 8 PM, starting October 25

Cost: $5

Really, can you beat that?  If you’d like to pre-pay, you can “register” or pay for the class on the “shop” tab. If you like the class well enough to get your own foam roller, you can purchase those through the “resources” tab up top as well.
Hope to see you there!

Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle

If you have searched around the internet at all for information about how fat loss works, undoubtedly you’ve come across Tom Venuto.  Tom is an award-winning author and natural body builder who lays everything out for you in his best seller “Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle”.  The book has just been updated after 10 years on the market and is full of updated information!  I highly recommend getting yours today – ebooks are also available, which is what I have.


Something Tom offers to anyone who purchases his ebook is the yearly chance to enter his transformation contest with an amazing grand prize: A trip to Maui, Hawaii.  No joke.  He has an online forum with lots of information and a supportive atmosphere, but you don’t even have to be a part of that if you want.  Just for getting the book, you have the option of entering the contest every year and getting access to the forums for that time, for no extra cost – how great is that? And, if you win the contest, you can get a trip to Maui!

Click here to visit The Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle Page


He has LOTS of great articles out, and you just might find some of them exactly what you need.  Check them out below:

How To Get Ripped Like A Bodybuilder, Fitness Model Or Action Movie Star

World’s Most Balanced Nutrition?

Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle

50 Is the New 30

Flute Day 2012!



Check out the Brochure!   flute day brochure

Flute Day is November 3, 2012 and will be held at Altus Flutes in Mt. Juliet, TN.  They will have Altus, Azumi and Jupiter flutes, piccolos, altos and basses available to play and try.

This Flute Day is really focused on middle schoolers and high schoolers, and what’s important to them, though anyone is invited to come.  I am very blessed to have Dr. Roger Martin from Tennessee Technological University (my alma mater!), andDr. Deanna Little from Middle Tennessee State University coming to share their wisdom and knowledge.


8:30 Registration (pre-register here) and goody bag handout
9:00 Welcome and Physical Warm Up
9:30 Flute Warm Up and Scales
10:00 Tone Production
10:30 Phrasing
11:00 Sight Reading
11:30 Performance Anxiety Management (aka: how to perform well when you’re nervous)
12:00 Break for lunch and to try the Altus/Azumi/Jupiter flutes and piccolos
12:45 Open masterclass of prepared pieces (3 volunteers) with Dr. Martin and Dr. Little
2:15 Joint flute choir!
3:00 END


Cost for the day is $25 if you pre-register, $30 if you register on-site, so avoid the lines and the extra money and register early!

If you would like to be on the email list for more details about Flute Day, Music Strong OR Flute lessons (you can choose on the sign up page), you can sign up here:

Love to hear your thoughts and comments and hope to see you there – help us get the word out!


Music Teacher’s Helper – Your New Studio Assistant

Having just moved to a new area, I now have a studio of about 24 students and growing – come from an area where getting students was like pulling teeth, being inundated with this many students is not only wonderful but can also be a little overwhelming with trying to keep track of all the finances. To any other music teacher who understands the frustration and confusion of having a large studio (or heck, of having a studio period) keeping track of student’s information, their payment status, who owes what when, who’s working on what, what school is out for fall or spring break at what time, etc. can be exhausting work.

I have found a lifesaving solution. Seriously,it’s taken the hassle out of running a studio and if you haven’t checked it out yet, you owe it to yourself to give it a look over. It even comes with a 30 day Free trial! After one week I was sold, you just might be, too.
The site is called Music Teacher’s

The site seriously does it all…

Image representing PayPal as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase


  • Calendar to keep track of individual lessons
  • Lesson reconcile feature, where you can enter lesson notes and assignments and payments
  • Practice Log
  • Lending library – keep track of what books you lent out to whom!
  • Parent and sutdent information
  • Separate student and parent log in information
  • Invoicing, individual and automatic invoicing
  • Send emails to one or all your students
  • Your own studio webpage where your students can log in, see your resource list, studio announcements
  • Accept credit card payments via PayPal – also the ability for parents to sign up for a lesson subscription where they are billed the same amount every month
  • If you have an Iphone….they have an app for that :)

Best of all, using this link, should you decide to sign up after your 30 day free trial will give you 20% off your first month, not a bad deal!

In one month I have found it incredibly useful. Most all of my kids have Fall break, and at different times, so it helps me and it helps them keep track of when they have lessons and when they don’t, and if they havnen’t paid, I can send them a detailed invoice to let them know how much they owe. Best of all, they can pay me straight through the website via PayPal so they don’t have to worry about sending me a check. On the personal studio website they gave me I’ve uploaded the school calendars, lesson information flyer and my lesson contract and I’m going to be uploading videos of upcoming Midstate Audition Music. You can see my individual site here:

My favorite feature? I have it set up to send each student an automatic lesson reminder the day before their lesson, so no more “I forgot I had a lesson” excuses!

Every day after I come home from teaching I come back and reconcile each lesson, writing in lesson notes from each lesson so when the kids or parents log in they can see what we worked on…how many times have your students forgotten to write notes or assignments and say they “didn’t practice because I forgot what I was supposed to work on”? No more!

So check them out and then come back and tell me how much you like them, I know I couldn’t live without them with a studio this big.

The link:

Again, if you decide to sign up with them through this link the first month is free (no strings attached) the second month you get 20% off! Come back and tell me your thoughts! Have you used your site in other ways? Have you found it helpful? The only downside I’ve been able to find is that it DOES take some personal responsibility on the part of the parents and students. If they don’t read your emails and don’t log in, they won’t find it useful, however, how useful it is to you won’t diminish as it is mostly a tool for you than for them.

Living in and Loving Nashville!

I have been here in Nashville about 5-6 weeks now and I am absolutely floored by the outpouring of blessings I have received since I’ve been here. My teaching schedule has exploded to 24 students and counting, Music Strong has already given a presentation at Middle Tennessee State University, I am now a member of the Nashville Flute Choir (giving our first performance tomorrow at 4 PM) and am about to start leading a foam rolling and a beginners boot camp class at Next Level Strength and Conditioning in Hermitage, TN. Every day seems to reveal new blessings and I am absolutely loving it!

Next up is my first ever Flute Day! It will be held at Altus Flute Company in Mt. Juliet and we will have guest artists Dr. Roger Martin from TTU and Dr. Deanna Little from MTSU there. The registration page will be up soon, in the meantime, you can keep up with updates and let me know you’re interested in coming on our Facebook events page here:

In the meantime, I’m now accepting clients and I have room for only a few more Skype students/clients so if you are interested in either, please email me ASAP at

Morning Mobility in Las Vegas – A Resource List

Thank you to everyone who came out to my workshop “Morning Mobility” at The National Flute Association convention in Las Vegas!  I had a great time with you and I hope you learned a lot. In case you didn’t get the handout, you can download it by clicking on this link – Morning Mobility.

Some of the blog posts I mentioned were:

You can get the products used in the class under the Resources tab up top.

Thank you to everyone who came by the Performance Health Committee booth in the convention hall to consult our great committee members.  I really enjoyed getting to speak with several of you.  Thank you also to those of you who came up for an assessment.  If you would like more information on what to do for your specific condition, I would be happy to provide you with a program, you can purchase an online training program from me here.  Please feel free to email me with any additional questions that may have come up since we last spoke, I’d love to talk to you.

For teachers and those of you in flute clubs, I do travel to do my workshops so if you think your organization could benefit from my workshop I would love to come to you.  We can tailor a workshop to be as long as you like with whatever is needful for each organization, be it a 2 day class, or a 1 hour lecture or a hands on master-class with individual students. You can find more information on my workshops under the Music Services Tab  I am happy to send you a brochure and rate sheet for your perusal as well.

For those of you in the Tennessee area I will be giving a workshop at Middle Tennessee State University on September 18 and at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga in the Spring, I hope to see you there!

To keep up with me, I hope you visit my Facebook page, I’d love to hear from you  – let me know how I can help YOU!


Trigger Point Total Body Package

Trigger point therapy is a great way to relieve stress, pain and muscle tension and is the first step in all my training programs and warm up routines. These prodcuts are excellent to prevent your thumbs from being fatigued and getting in deeply to the muscles and the best part is that after 5-7 seconds of pressure they mimic the feeling of a human thumb! See a full description of the product through this link:

Resistance Bands

I have used these from all kinds of things: from my boot camp classes to travel, wrist rehab to band resisted squats, pushups and leg kickbacks, you name it. This is your all-purpose resistance band available in several different resistances.

Music Strong in Las Vegas!


I am proud to announce that we will presenting at the National Flute Association Convention in August at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, NV!  This year’s convention will be held August 8-11th.

I will be giving two presentations this year, this first is a workshop called “Morning Mobility”.  The second is part of a “What To Do After College” roundtable and my presentation is titled “Being A Flutist in the National Guard”. I’ll give the perks, benefits, requirements and a detail of daily life as a part-time soldier/flutist I’ve got LOTS of goodies to hand out, so I hope to see you there!

Join the discussion on Facebook! Hop on over to the Facebook event page and let me know you are coming. Ask questions, and I may put your questions in as part of my presentation.  You can join the discussion and tell me you are coming on Facebook here! :)

The Morning Mobility presentation will focus on how to warm-up your body before practicing, performing or the weight room and safe stretches you can do anywhere.  We will utilize foam rollers, mini bands and I will show you exercises you can do in and out of the practice room.

I will have a very limited amount of materials on hand, but would rather sell them than take them back with me.  At the presentation I will have foam rollers and mini bands there, you are welcome to take them off my hands at the end of the presentation, please let me know you are interested in advance if you can.  If you would like more information about these products, or would like to order your own:

Protein “Nutter Butter” Bar?

Is it possible?

If you haven’t tried the Peanut Butter Creme flavor of Power Crunch Bars then you obviously don’t know. These taste ridiculously similar to “Nutter Butter” candy bars – they are wafer cookies with protein creme and I’ve been told they are amazing straight out of the freezer!

As a Power Crunch Ambassador, I’m happy to announce that I have access to a lot of these products at a discount, monthly, on a limited basis.  I would LOVE for you to try them! Each month, I have a certain amount of bars that I will be able to sell on a first come, first served basis.  When they are gone, they are gone.  This is a great way to try the bars without the commitment of an entire box and I know that that is not easy to find, unless you can go to a local store to buy them, and that’s not an option for everyone. Click here to order.

I also have access to their protein powder Proto-Whey. Click here to order.  Due to the nature of this product, I have very limited supplies on hand, again, first come, first serve, and I will be able to get it starting next month.  If you would like to get a 2 lb jug from me, please contact me ASAP and I will be able to order it for you, or put you on the waiting list for next month.  Currently, I have access to the Cafe Mocha and Strawberry flavors. And as of right now I have 1 Cafe Mocha in stock available to get out to you!

Why should you buy it from me?

DISCOUNTS, BABY!  Who doesn’t love a good deal? We are all trying to save money and being an Ambassador, I have access to these products at a great discount, which I am happy to pass on to you.  What kind of savings?

  • Proto Whey: on the website: $44.99, in store (or online+shipping): $35.99  My price to you? $24.99
  • Power Crunch: not available individually except in store at $1.89 each+tax.  My price to you? $1.49

All you need to add is the cost of shipping which can be done via USPS Priority Mail,  or Parcel Post.  Since it is the summer months, and the bars are prone to melting, if you don’t select expedited shipping, I highly recommend shipping with a cold pack.  This means that per order, I will ship in a box with a cold pack, to prevent melting.


All of these items can be found in my store under the “Shop” tab above or by clicking this link.

Please keep in mind that as I am going out of town, these orders will be available to be shipped on June 27.  Thank you for your patience and I hope you enjoy their products as much as I do!

Leigh Peele – Fat Loss Trouble Shoot and Support Forum

If you haven’t heard of Leigh Peele by now, shame on you. Her book “The Fat Loss Troubleshoot” should be on just about everyone’s bookshelf, especially those who have set up residence in the fat loss mindset.  As she has said so many times “Fat loss should be a short term journey”, but so many of us have been there for years, spinning our wheels and getting no where.

She is one of the few fitness professionals who stays on top of her game by constantly reviewing and reporting on the latest research and in her members forum, she is actually THERE and will personally answer your fitness/fat loss/mobility questions.

To join her members forum, or just to find out a bit more about her and what she does Click Here

What do you get when you join?

  • bonus member’s only podcasts
  • entry into contests/challenges with great prizes
  • 24/7 forum
  • home and suspension training programs
  • member’s only post and reports
  • audio and video reports
  • TONS of bonus downloads and free books, the moment you join.

And you know what the cost of all this is? $9.95/mo.  Seriously, that’s it.  One of the products she offers ALONE is worth more than that.  You can cancel anytime, so what do you have to lose?
Click Here to learn more

Music Strong is now an Ambassador for Power Crunch Bars!


There are very few protein bars on the market out there that are not loaded up with garbage, junk soy protein, fillers or are basically candy bars in disguise. I have only found two that I support – Power Crunch Bars are one of them.

I have been consuming these bars for years now. I first found out about them when I worked at Vitamin Shoppe and people would ask for bar recommendations. I was new and didn’t know what to tell them. The seasoned employees soon guided me in the direction of the Power Crunch Bars and told me “People by these by the box-ful, ESPECIALLY the peanut butter ones”. Quite honestly, if you like Nutter Butter bars, you will like the peanut butter Power Crunch Bars. They are AMAZIING. Being different myself, I’ve tried them all and while I like them, my personal favorite is the Cookies and Creme flavor. It really hits the spot when my sweet tooth strikes. Of course, one of my favorite fitness icons, Monica Brant, is their spokesperson and I thought “well, if it’s good enough for Monica, it’s good enough for me!”

What you should do is try these bars for yourself. You will NOT be disappointed! I have a very limited number I can sell to you and if you would like a free bar from me, I’m happy to give it out. Like I said, supplies are EXTREMELY limited, so I highly recommend purchasing a bar for yourself to try. You can get them at several locations including Vitamin Shoppe and Trader Joe’s and of course, here on my website until they’re gone!

Again, I’m thrilled to have been able to partner with BNRG Power Crunch Bars and I look forward to being able to promote their product as one of the very few in the industry I believe in.

The Paradoxical Commandments – From Mike Boyle

Yet another great post from Strength Coach Mike Boyle I wanted to share with you today.  You can see his original post here: Strength Coach Blog

The Paradoxical Commandments- Reposted

 I posted this in November 2008 when I was getting about 100 views a day. Thought I might go back to some good posts now that the number of views has increased. Thanks to Melanie Driscoll for reminding me.


Sorry to go all “philosophical” on you but, I think this is important. In a recent post related to youth sports and early specialization ( this time the specific topic was youth winter indoor football) one of my readers and frequent contributors Michelle Hart-Miller, a wonderful person and excellent coach, sounded almost despondent in her response .

“In this society I’m beginning to question making any effort at all.”

My response was to post The Paradoxical Commandments, a series of wonderful inspirational thoughts that have found there way around the world. On some of my worst days dealing with any problem I try to remember the concept of “Anyway”.

The Paradoxical Commandments were written in 1968 by Kent Keith and are contained in a book called AnyWay

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

I truly believe this is what keeps me coaching. One small victory can offset numerous losses.

Quest Nutrition Bars

Quest is the perfect nutrition bar for anyone looking to get top quality protein while dropping some carbs from their diet. Quest bars are as tasty and convenient as a candy bar, while maintaining all of the nutrition of a carefully prepared meal that’s packed with fiber to make you feel full and to help with digestion and weight loss.

Protein bars with good, quality ingredients, devoid of junk, excess sugars, fillers, hydrogenated oils and junk soy protein are almost impossible to find and when you do find them, they seldom taste good. I’m delighted to announce that after having tried just about every bar out there, I have found a bar that meets these criteria.  Meet the Quest Bar!

Try Quest Protein Bars!

Why do I like them?

  • no high fructose corn syrup
  • up to 17g of fiber
  • no sugars
  • 20g of whey protein per bar
  • 4g net carbs (for the Atkins people)


My personal favorite (so far) is the coconut cashew. I love coconut and it has real flakes of coconut in it, with a mildly nutty, not-overwhelmingly coconut flavor.  The Vanilla Almond is delicious too, it reminds me very strongly of Pralines and Cream Ice Cream.  I’m hoping to try the Peanut Butter and PB&J very soon, and since you can order them by the individual bar…why not?  Go get one of every flavor and try them yourself!  I keep one in every purse I have just in case I’m out and can’t get to some food.  They are excellent to stash in your gig bag, workout bag or purse.  Seriously, if you’re not sold, click through the link, buy just one bar and try it.  That way, you haven’t committed to a box yet and if you don’t like it (which I highly doubt) you aren’t out very much.


Try Quest Protein Bars!

Gordelli Flute Concerto and Panama City Pops

This past May 5th I had the privelege of stepping out from among the orchestra to be accompanied by them.  At the National Flute Association Convention in Charlotte this past year, I heard Christina Jennings play this at the gala concert and said “I have to play that”.  Alas, I also REALLY wanted to play the Larry Singer piccolo concerto (a fabulous 3 movement work if you don’t know it – you can buy it at and so I had that prepared and ready to go.  The maestro, upon hearing the two pieces via You Tube (as we couldn’t find many recordings of either of them) said “Oh no, we have to play the Gordelli!” so the race was on and I had to learn the piece in a few weeks, in between several long out of state trips.  The result is not (to me) my best performance, but I wanted to be able to share it with you all who were not there, regardless and hope you enjoy this wonderful piece.  The orchestra is the Panama City Pops orchestra.

Gymboss Trainer

This little guy is a GREAT addition to your arsenal. If you are like me (like most of us, and definitely all of my clients) rest times between sets tend to go way longer than they should. This guy stops that by keeping you on track whether you are using it to time rest sets, sprint intervals, etc. In fact, a man whose work I highly respect, Martin Berkhan of Leangains, did a great review on this guy. Why don’t I let you read his review?
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PlateMate Weight Magnets

These have to be some of new favorite training tools.  Most dumbbells and plates increase in increments of 5 lbs.  For some movements, that can be just too much of a jump.  You should be making progress every time you go in the gym, be it one more rep or one more pound, but you can’t jump up 5 lbs. every time.  For those times when you stall, these little guys are the best!  I have used these things on everything from working my way up on shoulder presses with dumbbells to Barbell rowing.  They come in  1 1/4 lb. sizes (and probably more) and I believe the bars(as seen in the second picture, the ones that attach to cable stations) come in increments of 2.5 lbs.  WELL worth the investment!

Perform Better

Perform Better is where I get almost all of my training equipment; all kinds of bands, tubing, weights, you name it. What is great about this company is that no job or order is too big or small. You can order just a foam roller for yourself or you can contact them to help outfit your new gym or facility with all new equipment. They frequently have really great sales that include free shipping, so check back often!

A few of my favorite items from them:

  • mini bands
  • super bands
  • resistance tubing
  • foam rollers
  • Val Slides
  • Gymboss
  • Plate Mates (magnetic fractional plates, you will LOVE these!)
  • weighted vests

If this wasn’t enough you can also purchase educational materials from them like books and DVD’s and what is really great is that they have their own seminar series: the Perform Better Summits including these different seminars:

  • Functional Movement Screen Workshops
  • Results Business Seminars (Including the well-known “From Counting Reps to Counting Revenue” with Rachel and Alwyn Cosgrove. They own Results Fitness; Rachel has authored the book “The Female Body Breakthrough” and Alwyn has co-authored all the “New Rules of Lifting” books with Lou Schuler)
  • Battling Ropes Certification

So as you can see, they are WAY more than just a place to buy equipment. They have partnered with some of the top names in the business and they are here to help you be you a weekend warrior, newbie or trainer yourself.



Simple Thoracic Spine Mobility Exercises Everyone Can Perform | Mike Reinold

Simple Thoracic Spine Mobility Exercises Everyone Can Perform | Mike Reinold.

This is an EXCELLENT post from Dr. Mike Reinold.  Equally helpful to musicians suffering from upper body pain, to those who sit all day and have shoulder, back and neck problems.  What Mike demonstrates in many of the videos below is actually outlined in great detail in the book “Inside -Out: The Ultimate Upper Body Warm-Up” and if any of these work for you or this post hits home for you ,I wouldn’t wait a minute longer but would go get this book immediately.  I use it constantly with my personal training clients, with my students and with myself before training AND before playing.  It’s easy to read, easy to understand and lots of pictures.  WELL worth the investment.  You can get it here:  Inside-Out


Thoracic spine mobility is an extremely important, and often times overlooked, component to a variety of dysfunctions.  Poor thoracic mobility can affect the shoulder, neck, low back, and hip very easily.  Unfortunately, our daily habits and posture make us all very prone to poor thoracic spine mobility.

Thoracic spine mobility exercises

I have talked about this before when discussing my reverse posturing theory and when discussing what may be the best posture stretch that I know.  A key component to reverse posturing is working on thoracic spine mobility.

There are many variations of thoracic spine mobility exercises and drills out there on the internet.  Many of them are great, but not for everyone.  Here is a collection of thoracic spine mobility exercises that you can try with your patients and clients.  These are all great example, but at the end I will discuss my preferred technique and a simple thoracic spine mobility exercises that is easy for everyone to perform.  I think it is a great place to start when trying to enhance thoracic spine mobility.

Regardless of which thoracic mobility exercise you chose, there is one major goal that MUST be achieved during all of the different mobility drills:

Mobility must come from the thoracic spine and NOT the lumbar spine

This is critical and the easiest way to turn a nice corrective exercise for the thoracic spine into a mobility drill for the lumbar spine that feeds into the person’s deficiencies.
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What Did You Bring For Lunch? Meatza?

I am extremely excited to announce the launch of a brand new product I highly believe in.  There has been a need for this product for so long, I’m surprised no one thought of it sooner!  The vast amount of people in this country who do not cook for themselves because they are

  1. Intimidated
  2. Don’t know how
  3. Lazy

is astounding.  No longer do you need to be one of the countless masses, ordering pizza every night and wondering why you are still fat.  Let Josh teach you how to cook

  • Brreakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Knife Skills
  • Pan Skills
  • How to boil water
  • The all important Paleo-IF-PSMF-Friendly Meatza recipe!

In fact, why don’t I let him explain this for himself?  You can check out his product over at the website: What Did You Bring For Lunch?

Don’t let the drive-thru get another dollar!

  • Are you tired of wasting your money at fast food restaurants?
  • Do you wish that you could have a home cooked meal that didn’t come from a box?
  • Do you secretly want to cook but have no idea where to begin?

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a self cooked meal AND save a few dollars right about now?

They’re both possible and YOU can be on your way to cooking a meal faster than you think!

  “What did you bring for lunch?” is a SIMPLE program that teaches you how to cook.  This is not your ordinary cook book and its not another 30 minute meal knockoff.  

The DVD includes step by step instructions so YOU can master basic cooking techniques that will help you create thousands of meals.

 Follow along as it takes you from the basics of boiling water all the way up to a 3 course breakfast fit for a king!

The included ebook covers shopping for cookware no matter what your budget is!  Detailed guides tell you how to score great equipment for little or no money and what to look for.

Maybe your wallet is bigger than your watch?  No problem!  I’ve done all your homework for you!  Click here to have everything delivered to your door so you can be cooking in a matter of days, AND you won’t spend a fortune!

Unlike other cooking programs I don’t leave out steps or assume that anything is too basic.  My goal was to create a complete program that could benefit people that have never even opened a box of mac n cheese as well as guide those that want to understand the science behind cooking.

Most cooking shows are filmed in a super expensive kitchen where the chef has everything he could ever want at his disposal. Wouldn’t that be nice?!?  Every segment was filmed in the kitchen of my 1100 sq foot pad.  

Needless to say if I can make it work in my tiny apartment you can too! 

  In this tough economic time every dollar counts.  

We’re all looking for ways to save money and food is no exception.  How many times have you decided to save money by eating at home only to find that the recipe was expensive and the food sucked? Don’t let that turn you off from giving cooking another shot.  With What Did You Bring For Lunch I’ll show you how to cook meals that are designed to be taken to work or school the next day (or two). As you build your arsenal of ingredients at home you’ll find you take less trips to the store and have lower grocery bills.

What Did You Bring For Lunch actually pays for itself in 3 weeks!   

I’ve watched my coworkers go out to eat every day for lunch for years.  Rarely do they bring anything.  They spend 20 minutes driving to a restaurant, waiting in line, and then making the “walk of shame” through the front door with their grease soaked bag they call “lunch”.  By the time they sit down and begin to eat I’ve already eaten a delicious home cooked meal and have time to spend my lunch break outside in the fresh air or enjoy a book at the picnic table.  Every day on their way out the door they peer over my shoulder and ask “What did you bring for lunch?”.  Sometimes they come bursting into the break room demanding to know what that fantastic smell is.  

I just smile knowing that my lunch is healthier, tastier and less expensive.

  Let’s get back to saving money, shall we?  What Did You Bring For Lunch really does pay for itself in a few short weeks.  I polled my coworkers and found that the average fast food lunch runs seven dollars. Seven dollars for a combo meal!  Wow!  Most of my meals will run about three dollars.  

Using my system saves you 20 dollars the first week!  

How does putting 80 DOLLARS back in your pocket this month sound?  Pretty good, eh?  Do you have to bring your lunch every day?  No.  Let’s assume you eat out 2 days a week.  This still saves around 40 DOLLARS a month.  Did I mention this is only for lunch?  Once you’re able to cook for yourself dinner will no longer be the expense it once was.

With What Did You Bring For Lunch you’ll be on your way to eating better AND saving money in no time!


I’m not here to give you a fish, I’m here to teach you how to fish. 

My Story

   Let’s skip all the pretentious snobbery involved with cooking and get down to the meat and potatoes, shall we (get it?).  I’m just a regular guy who has a passion for food.  I like food that tastes good and doesn’t take all day to cook.  I work erratic shifts and while I would love to spend all day in the kitchen cooking I simply can’t.  I live alone so there’s no one to make me food if I’m hungry.  Cook or starve!  It all started when I was about ten years old.  I remember cooking my first meal one summer.  It was chicken breast and potatoes.  The chicken was tough and the potatoes were WAY underdone.  I cooked it myself and was proud even though it tasted like crap.  I kept making the same meal over and over again until it tasted right.  I tried to understand what the food was doing so I could replicate it time after time.

   Fast forward to high school.  I come from a busy family and my parents were often at work and/or traveling for work.  I decided to put my cooking skills to use and make dinner for myself so that I could save my money and not starve.  This served me well as I continued this tradition in college and on into adulthood. 

Now I want to share what I’ve learned with you. 

My method of teaching is simple; let’s work together. 

How It Works

The videos are shot in my kitchen and I explain each step so you can follow along at home. 

With the included Ebook you’ll have all the specifics so you can make the recipe by using the skills you learned at the beginning of the video.  

The skills that are taught will help you make the recipes I’ve included and inspire you to make your own meals.  

What Did You Bring For Lunch? builds on itself so once you’ve mastered the basics the sky is the limit.  

The Ebook includes a section on how to create your own dish using the skills you’ve learned.

What’s on the DVD?



  • potatoes
  • eggs
  • bacon
  • crumbled sausage

Cheeseburger Soup

    use as a template for constructing your own soup recipes


    savory Mexican style pork

Chicken Wings

    watch the game at home and save a bundle


    a meat based pizza? It can be done and it IS delicious!

Greek Yogurt

    It’s easier (and cheaper) than you think


    Just like mom’s!

How To’s

Care for your cookware

  • Washing it properly.

Cutting Board Basics

  • Save time and effort by mastering your knife

Ground beef

  • It’s a staple in many recipes so why not learn to do it right.


  • How exactly do I use this pan anyway?

Boil Water

  • There’s slightly more to it than it sounds. Slightly.

Cook Vegetables

  • Caramelizing has nothing to do with cake.

I’ll give you the knowledge if you’ll provide your own imagination.  Let’s make dinner together!

Order Now!

Save the Sing Off! « Michael Boyle’s Blog – Save Acapella Music

Save the Sing Off! « Michael Boyle’s Blog.

Michael Boyle is a strength coach I highly admire and respect, so imagine my surprise when this morning he published a post about saving an Acapella singing show on TV!

I know, most days we are talking strength and conditioning or nutrition but today we visit the world of entertainment. The Sing Off, the best show on TV, is in danger of not having season 4. Please sign this petition so that we can have another great season of acapella music.

Acapella music is a dying art form, for no other reason than we have come to rely on technology and “Auto Tune” so much that these singers who get paid millions of dollars, can’t give a quality live performance.  As a professionally trained musician, this is one of my pet peeves; it offends my work ethic, my sense of discipline and demeans those who work so hard at this art form and get little to no reward.  As someone who grew up and still attends a church where we do not have instrumental music, but only do acapella singing, I can attest to the worth of this.  God gave us voices to use, not to be re-done by technology.  Let’s reward those with the talent and discipline to learn to sing acapella.  Read the information below from the Petition and please join me in signing.  This is a huge part of American heritage, let’s not let it die!

The Petition

The Sing-Off, outside of being the one of the networks 3rd highest rated shows, is one of the most positive shows on television.

It is an instrumental part of developing a stronger appreciation for the arts at a time when the teaching of art and music is under attack at almost every level.

While other entertainment venues of its kind rely on either negativity, or dumbing down of the skill involved in the art-form.

The Sing-Off fosters a real standard of quality in those that tread across its stage. The past contestants of The Sing-Off have shown themselves to be resilient practitioners of A Cappella music and stalwart champions of music in education. They have shown depth of character in helping their fellow competitors, long after the end of their respective seasons. They have gone around the world to help show that music can truly be the universal language. Help this continue! Sign this petition, and help convince the NBC network that The Sing-Off deserves another season.


My Top Reccommended Books for Getting Back Into Flute or Piccolo Playing

Recently I received an email from a college friend of mine.  Her path has taken her away from music for a bit and while she is having marvelous adventures, she doesn’t want to see a decline in her playing level, even with having fewer playing opportunities.  She sent me this message below:

“So, you know that I’m playing with a couple community groups around the area, but with my job and other things I have going on, I don’t have the time to dedicate to taking lessons and I don’t practice as much anymore y question is, I was wondering if you had suggestions on some etudes or exercises that I could play around on to keep my fingers and technique at least where it is.

Basically, I was wondering if you had suggestions on things I can do to keep up my technique. I can tell I’m not at the level I was at in college anymore… but I don’t want to keep declining. I have a few scale exercises from college, but I just thought I’d ask if you had any thoughts or suggestions or words of wisdom?”


I have no doubt her question actually resonates with a large percentage of the population.  Maybe you started out in music, maybe even got a music degree and for whatever reason, life took you away from being able to play and now here you find yourself all this time later, not as good as you once were but no idea how to get back into it.

These are my suggestions to her:

Hi L! Good to hear from you!  Sure, I’ve got some suggestions.

There are lots of fun etudes that are challenging as well, my favorites are the Piazzola Tango Etudes and there is also a book of Flamenco etudes that are fun as well. I JUST bought the Trevor Wye Omnibus edition (books 1-5) to use with his piccolo practice book and wondered why I didn’t know about it sooner! it’s like you’re taking lessons with him when you go through the books. I would DEFINITELY go get that one. You can get it here:

Trevor Wye has an Omnibus edition, which is books 1-5 of his lesson books and it covers tone, technique, intonation, articulation, vibrato, you name it.  He has another book after that, book 6 which is his Advanced Practice Book.  I highly recommend these

Trevor Wye's Practice Books for the Flute
look inside
Trevor Wye’s Practice Books for the Flute
(Omnibus Edition Books 1-5). For Flute (Flute). Music Sales America. Classical. Softcover. 200 pages. Novello & Co Ltd. #NOV120851. Published by Novello & Co Ltd. (HL.14036445)Smp_stars40
…more info

Book 6: the Advanced Practice book – it incororates a lot of things from the first 5 books:

Trevor Wye Practice Book for the Flute Trevor Wye Practice Book for the Flute
(Volume 6 – Advanced Practice). For Flute. Music Sales America. Softcover. 36 pages. Novello & Co Ltd. #NOV120591. Published by Novello & Co Ltd. (HL.14036443)

…more info

Etudes, as you know, are a great way to incorporate everything that you have been working on in detail (tone, technique, etc.) into a tuneful studey. I’m much more of a fan of etudes that have an ethnical flair to them. The Piazzola Tango Etudes are nice enough that you can even play them in concert if you have the opportunity. Here’s the Piazzola;

Tango-Etudes pour Flute seule (for Flute Solo)
look inside

Tango-Etudes pour Flute seule (for Flute Solo)
By Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992). Arranged by Pierre Andre Valade. For flute solo (or violin solo). Latin, Argentina and 20th Century. Difficulty: difficult. Flute solo book. Standard notation. Composed 1987. 11 pages. Published by Editions Henry Lemoine (LM.24897)

…more info

The Flamenco Studies are a lot of fun too – they are technically challenging but for me, much more fun as they can really help you work on your rubato and phrasing:

3 Virtuoso Flamenco Studies 3 Virtuoso Flamenco Studies
By Krystof Zgraja. Schott. 15 pages. Schott Music #ED8425. Published by Schott Music (HL.49007999)

…more info
An additional book I’ve found immensely helpful in practicing piccolo (since I haven’t had piccolo lessons in a long time, it’s a nice way to have a refresher course) is Trevor Wye’s Practice Book for Piccolo.  What’s great about this is that you can use it in tandem with the Omnibus edition, but even if not, there’s excellent information in it, like you are getting a piccolo lesson from Trevor himself.  After discussing a particular practice method he puts them into practice by including a massive amount of orchestral excerpts, immensely helpful in my opinion. No piccoloist should be without it.

Practice Book for the Piccolo
look inside
Practice Book for the Piccolo
For Piccolo. Music Sales America. Softcover. 214 pages. Novello & Co Ltd. #NOV120658. Published by Novello & Co Ltd. (HL.14036416)Smp_stars40
…more info

There is a vast amount of literature when it comes to practicing flute and getting back into it after a hiatus, however long, can be a bit daunting.  I’m sure others will chime in with what they like and have used, such as the Taffanel and Gaubert studies, Reichert Daily Exercises and multitudes of exercises by Moyse, but these are my suggestions as a starting point for basics to get into it, as just about all of the above is covered in some way in these tomes.

I invite you to leave your comments below on what has worked for you, what you use with your students, etc.
For a more complete listing of the books, methods and musical products I use and recommend, check out my Amazon store:

The Beaker Face

Any child who was priveledged enough to grow up in the age of Hannah-Barbara, otherwise known as the 1980′s, when the cartoons on Saturday morning were worth watching ( a la: GI Joe, She-Ra, He-Man, Rainbow Bright, My Little Pony and Thunder Cats), kids were expected to go outside and play after school and The Muppets reigned supreme, can identify with this post. 

If you don’t know who the Muppets are, well, Google it, I don’t have time to explain it to you.  To those of you who DO know, the name “Beaker” might ring a bell.  Beaker was one half of the Science duo of Dr. Bunson and his assistant Beaker.   Beaker’s remarkable traits were his his face (a perpetual frown) and voice (something akin to the Road Runner). When explaining a “correct” embochure to my students, I tell them several things, but I usually end up referring to Beaker.  So now, if I see them getting a little too tight, (this works great with the little ones) I tell them to “make your Beaker face!” and when they quit laughing from feeling so silly, the sound improves.

There are probably as many opinions on what a correct flute embouchure is as there are people on the planet.  I have two philosophies:

  1. If you sound great in all registers and you have no complaint with your tone quality or lip flexibility, I don’t care what it looks like.  If you sound great and like it, rock on with your bad self.
  2. If #1 does not apply to you, I will teach you the way that works for me and makes the most sense to me.  Every student that has mastered this to some degree has come away with a MUCH better tone quality, lip flexibility and ability to control the air than otherwise.  This embouchure is to pout and frown….more correctly, make the Beaker face!

I’ve convey this by saying several things.  See which works for you:

  1. Pout: your bottom lip comes out.  Now keep it there by
  2. Frowning.   Pretend you’re a 4 year old about to throw a fit.  What do you look like?

These two things of course, tend to overexaggerate the correct embouchure but it’s a start.  From there….

  • Stick your fingers in the corner of your lips and pull down.  Now grab your fingers with your lips (corners).  That is how you hold your lips down.
  • Put your hands on the side of your face and pull down.  What happens to your lower lip? It comes down and goes out.  When you stop laughing see if you can hold it there.
  • Think of your bottom lip as an aircraft carrier.  The planes have to have enough runway to fly, right? Well, if you pull your corners back what happens to your lip? It gets sucked in and then your run way is too short and what happens to the planes?  We don’t want to kill pilots, so let’s keep the runway nice and long, ok?d
  • Now that you have your run way set, let’s talk about your top lip, what does it do?  Think of it as being like a garage door, it goes up and down.  Put your hand i front of your face and blow a stream of air from the bottom of your hand to the top (without moving your jaw).  How did you do it?  Your top lip moved the air stream.

So, now that you’ve got your Beaker face set up, now what?  This would be the finished product:This guy actually does it pretty well!

  1. Corners are down, pulling the lip out.
  2. The top lip is from where all the control originates.
  3. Keep your lips together and then let the air create a hole.  Blow steadily – this is your new embouchure.

So how do you work on keeping this new embouchure?  USE A MIRROR! So many times we think we are doing one thing when we are actually doing another.  Get set up and look in the mirror.  Is it what you thought? Can you do more?  Play and watch, does it change? Can you hold it there?


The guy at left is doing it pretty well actually!

Now, if you find yourself with your embouchure starting to tighten back up and your corners pulling back, try this little trick: inflate your cheeks, yup, just like Dizzy Gillespie.  Ok, so you don’t have to LOOK like him, but you get the idea, right? You can’t pull your corners back and puff out your cheeks at the same time, it can’t be done, you have to pick one or the other!

Why would you want to inflate your cheeks?  It FORCES you to learn to use your upper lip to direct the air, instead of the corners, where you probably learned.  I’ve seen that you can only go so far with your tone and lip flexibility with tight lips on a flute.  If you don’t relearn how to use your top lip to direct the air, you will be very limited in what you can do to play.


This is something I tell all flute players: we work too hard to play.  We make it so much harder than it actually is!  Playing the flute should be easy.  And that’s relatively easy, mind you.  What I mean is that if your jaw hurts or neck hurts or lip hurts after playing…you’re doing it wrong.  We have the most relaxed embouchure in the band/orchestra.  Don’t copy anyone else’s embouchure because it just won’t work. You’re not a clarinetist, oboist or trumpet player, so your embouchure shouldn’t look like there’s either!

If you would like more detailed help with your playing, I’m available for lessons via Skype and in person in Nashville come August 2012.  Please send me an email at or check out the “lessons” tab at the top under Music Services.


In the meantime, let Beaker be your guide – and make your Beaker face when you play!

Music Strong is Moving to Nashville

Yes, you heard me correctly.  The Lord has really opened up a lot of great opportunities for Music Strong in the Music City and come early to mid August I will be moving to Nashville.  I will be teaching flute lessons in several area schools and have plans to really promote the mission of Music Strong – empowering musicians to live their healthiest, most mobile, pain-free lives through strength training.


Several opportunities have presented themselves, some of which I am not at liberty to talk about yet, but I am also excited about auditioning for the Nashville Symphony 3rd flute/piccolo position. I have a true passion for piccolo and to play in the symphony would be a wonderful dream to me.


What does this mean to you?

To my current and prospective Panama City, Florida in-home training clients:

What this means is that due to obvious distance constraints, after July I will no longer be offering in-person in-home training as an option for Panama City.  I have really enjoyed my time with all of you, seeing the improvements you have all made in body composition, life outlook, mobility, etc. and I will miss our weekly sessions.  If you would like to continue with me, I do have an online training option that is open to you.  What this entails are monthly Skype sessions where I will continue to give assessments and check your form on exercises (if you have Skype on your phone you can demonstrate said exercises to me over the phone or computer), you will continue to receive your monthly plans, tailor made and individualized to your unique needs, weekly or bi-weekly phone consults to keep you on track and of course, unlimited texting and email support in whatever areas you should need it.  I do know of at least one other trainer in the Panama City area with an NASM certification (also certified by Venice Nutrition) and should you wish to contact her, her name is Lisa Carter Mitchell and she would be happy to help you with your in-person training.  As I learn of more, I will be happy to refer.

Other trainers, feel free to leave a message and let others know you are there, I’m sorry I didn’t know about you!


To my prospective clients in Nashville

I am currently accepting online clients for online training and come August, I will be available for in-person training.

I will have the ability to train you in your home or, to get the best workout possible, Music Strong has partnered up with Next Level Strength and Conditioning in Hermitage.   We are VERY excited about this opportunity and are really looking forward to getting started training at NLSC.  It is a small, private gym, tucked out of the way of the hustle and bustle of things but still very close to Nashville, just off I-40 W.

Many options are in the works, details coming soon as things are finalized.  If you are interested in training with me, please post here or send me an email at to let me know what type of training and when you are interested in starting.    Musicians – you are my target group and I am ESPECIALLY interested in helping you.  We are unique athletes and should be treated as such.  As a classically trained, professional musician myself, I know the unique demands of our art and it is my goal to help all musicians live healthy, pain-free lives through strength training.  The benefits are beyond compare, benefits you cannot get from yoga or running alone.  Please contact me and let’s get started! 


To my students:

After July, I will not be offering in-person lessons. However this does not mean that our lessons are over.  I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching all of you and if you would like to continue taking lessons with me, all you need is a computer with Skype and a webcam.  I have been teaching lessons via Skype for almost 2 years now with no problems and it is a great way to continue on getting the personalized attention and instruction you need.


Emerald Coast Flute Choir

The plans are that after July I will no longer be the leader of this group.  However, the group is growing and the interest is there.  The members all really enjoy it, so I believe it may continue with Mr. Ernie Brock as the leader, though this has not been finalized.  Please contact me if you are interested in joining the flute choir.


My orchestras: The Panama City Pops and Sinfonia Gulf Coast

Pops: You all have heard the announcement of my move.  I am unsure if I will be vacating the Principal chair or not, as my husband is not moving with me immediately and I will obviously be down to visit, I may be able to continue playing with the Pops for awhile.  If this does not come to fruition, I have already secured a replacement flutist; a wonderful, talented musician, Sue Parsons from Tallahassee, who will do a marvelous job in the chair.


Sinfonia: Barring getting into the NSO, I would love to keep my chair with you all.  With the number of concerts and rehearsals we have, I believe this is fully doable.  As stated before, my husband will be staying in Panama City for the time being and as I will be down to visit, I can certainly find a way to time my visits around concerts.  I have thoroughly enjoyed playing with Sinfonia and look forward to many more seasons!


Panama City Beach Boot Camp

Boot camp was a fun experiment to try to get a group fitness class established. Whether the times or days were inconvenient, or just the fact of not reaching the right people, the lack of interest in the class has forced me to quit the camp.  We may resurrect boot camp if I get enough interest.  I do have an indoor location to be used and as for the outdoor location, early morning really is the only option as the afternoon temperatures can be sweltering come end of May.  If you are interested in signing up for boot camp class, please send me a message at and let me know.  If enough interest is shown, we will revive the class up through July.

PC Beach Boot Camp may also be getting a new instructor to carry on after I leave, I will post more details on the boot camp website at as they come happen.


Again, thank you Panama City for the amazing time I have spent there; allowing me to form a flute choir, attain my certifications, begin Music Strong and teaching me so many other things.  The time has come to move on and I am immensely looking forward to my move to Nashville!See you in August!

It’s OK To Not Work Out…No, Really It Is

Try to have this conversation with most meatheads in the gym and they start twitching, or at the very least the eyes glaze over and you can tell the brain has already moved on to their next set of bicep curls and is no longer listening to what you say.

In the fitness world it seems there are two types of people and ne’er the twain shall meet:

1) slackers.

2) Overachievers


The former group is comprised of people who complain about what they don’t have, read books while walking on the treadmill, aimlessly wander the  gym picking up dumbbells here and there and then return to the treadmill where it’s “safe” to continue another chapter, content in their mediocrity yet constantly complaining they don’t get “results”.  This can also apply to the people who never leave their couches who are merely content to order every ab-blaster, Shake-Weight, Hydroxy-Slim-Wham-Bam-Fat-Be-Gone-Pill and other late night TV infomercial weight loss wonder.






The latter consists of those who don’t understand de-loading, rest weeks or the power of rest in general and if they take more than a day or two away from exercise or lifting start to get cabin fever.  These are also the people who tend to run themselves into the ground, wonder why they don’t see “results”, get sick, injuries or their muscles quit “growing”.

Granted, all these things can be chalked up to other causations but if you’ve ever step foot in a gym, you will doubtless have see these two types of people.  Rare is the person who lifts 2-4 days MAXIMUM, does little cardio (if at all) for weight loss and only if they enjoy it (aka cycling, running, etc) and it’s a rare day to see them be in the gym for more than an hour at a time.  Comprise this with either of the two individuals above who aspire to either end of the spectrum, doing too much or too little and you’ll see what I mean.  Moderation is rare.  In our country where we are all about excess, this spills over to the stupid slogan of the 1980′s “No Pain No Gain”.


I cry foul.


As I have stated in previous posts,  there is a definite time and place for rest and time away from exercise.  Now, if you find yourself part of the first group, this isn’t your problem.  Your problem is that you have no idea what to do so you are paralyzed by a fear of the unknown and are content to stay in your “safe” zone.  How do you fix this?  Hire a trainer for goodness sakes.  It will be the best thing you have ever done for yourself.  You’ll learn proper form, good workouts that aren’t senseless (this is if you have a trainer who has a clue what they are doing, and there are plenty who have no idea….they just think they do because it worked for them….those are the trainers to stay away from.  Get a trainer who can explain EVERYTHING to you, even if you don’t care, because that will show you they know what they’re talking about) and with good luck and good help, you will progress to the elusive and desirable “Moderate” category.




If you find yourself part of the 2nd group, working out 6 days a week, sometimes 2x’s a day, first off, ask yourself WHY?  Why do I really want to devote this much time to the gym?  When was the last time I got measurable results?  When was the last time I took a week off?  If you can’t remember when, then for goodness’ sake, do us all a favor and walk out of the gym right now and don’t touch another pair of dumbbells for two weeks.  Yes, TWO WEEKS.  GET OVER IT.

Yes. Rest is good.

The body was designed to move, yes, but we also need rest.  You don’t grow in the gym you tear down.  Literally.  You rebuild outside of the gym when you are resting.  When you don’t rest, you don’t recover and eventually the body will start giving you warning signals (illness, sleeplessness, brain fog, aching joints, DOMS that doesn’t go away, low energy) and if you ignore these, it can completely shut itself down and you can get injured or become very ill.

I could go on and on as to “why” certain people fall into this category:

  • Type “A” Personality
  • Think more is better
  • Don’t undertand the relationship between lifting and rest/recovery
  • Only read muscle mags and blogs about how pain is good and you have to really kill yourself in the gym everytime you go or you’ve wasted your time
  • Avoiding home
  • Avoiding other things or people
  • Feel like the gym and your body is the only thing over which you have control

If any of the last three are you, I strongly recommend finding a friend to talk to, a counselor or finding some other way to face your problems head on instead of coping with them through exercise.  If you don’t, they can move on to other coping mechanisms like addiction, strange food behaviors, becoming unsociable, etc.

This post is inspired by my current state.  If you keep up with me on Facebook at all, you’ll notice my schedule is go-go-go nonstop seems like.  Lifting, training for a cycling century, training my clients, teaching flute lessons (driving to all said appointments) orchestra rehearsals, Drill with the Army in another state, more driving….

It caught up with me. 

The last few days I’ve noticed this:

  • Immediately after I get out of bed I wonder where I can get some caffeine
  • After a full night’s sleep I am tired/exhausted
  • I don’t nap and if I just lay down for a second I fall asleep
  • I can’t sleep at night
  • During the day I feel jittery, on edge and tired all at the same time
  • No energy for every day activities
  • My appetite is whacked out/not normal
  • Lifting and cycling are more difficult than they should be.

These are all warning signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue.  I have consumed too much caffeine, been under a little too much stress and not taken adequate time off to recover.  While my schedule can’t change, I can change.  For the rest of the week, I WILL NOT EXERCISE.  No cycling, no lifting, just general activity and lots of rest when I can.  Considering I have to drive to TN back within a 48 hour time period, shoot at the range with the Army, play a dress rehearsal with the orchestra and play a solo at an Orchestra Concert there is really no reason to add vigorous exercise on top of it.  My body is yelling at me to rest and thankfully, I’m at least wise enough to listen.


Sadly, too many exercisers are so addicted to their “sport” that they don’t listen until their bodies force them to pay attention.

Listen up, if any of those symptoms above apply to you, if you feel burned out in the gym, if you’ve been hitting it hard and just don’t have the motivation then STOP.  Your body is asking for some time off.  Even if it isn’t, a few days can do wonders for you and won’t hurt a thing.  You won’t lose muscle (if you’ve been lifting hard, you might even gain), you won’t get fat (unless you overeat during your time of resting)  – in fact, you just might lose some water weight as your cortisol and inflammation markers come down.

Sometimes time off has a convenient way of putting itself in our schedules when we travel, have family over, life circumstances get in the way, but for those for whom the gym is life, if you do not take time off, this is sure to befall you:

Is there more than one type of rest?

Yes, there is passive and active rest.  Passive is just what it sounds like, you don’t do ANYTHING but enjoy doing nothing.  Active rest is something very low impact and low intensity, a walk, an easy spin on the bike but don’t take that to mean brisk walking and spinning class, you’re missing the point.  Enough movement to get the blood flowing to aid recovery and no more.  Lyle McDonald wrote a great article about it all here: The Importance of Rest.

How often should I take a break?

You should take, at minimum, 1 day COMPLETELY off (as in passive rest) once a week, and maybe one more of active rest.  All of this, of course, depends on what you do for training.  For those who workout intensely several times a week, a general rule is to go hard for 3 weeks and take 1 week easy.  If you are part of the NASM crowd and follow the OPT model, this can be put into the model as well.  Even if you are training at level 1 Strength Endurance, even though you are lifting very high repetition, the intensity level can still be high depending on your level of fitness. Add to this the slowness of tempo of your movements and you have a deceptively hard workout.  You can do a de-load week or, lower the intensity a bit and then move to the next phase.  What I like to do with my clients is plan off weeks for 1-2 weeks here and there during the year, mostly to coincide with when they couldn’t be training anyway: vacation, family time, travelling, etc.    From Lyle:

Almost all athletes take easy periods in their training (some call this unloading or deloading) although this depends significantly on how they are training. And the ones that don’t should. The average scheme is to train intensely for 3 weeks and then take an easy week where volume, intensity, frequency or all three are reduced. Others will go 5-6 weeks and then take an easy week. My generic bulking routine, alternates 2 weeks of easy training with 4-6 weeks pushing the weights up I’d probably suggest, on average, taking a full week off from training after every 3 cycles (18-24 weeks) of continuous training.

Longer cycles of 16-18 weeks are often followed by periods of 5-10 days completely off from training. Charlie Francis, sprint coach extraordinaire, often gave his athletes 5 days completely off from training between every 12-16 week block. So they’d work up to a new peak over 12 weeks (on a 3 week hard/1 week easy schedule) including their final taper, take 5 days off to recharge and then do it again. Yet most people training recreationally think they can go all out year round (bodybuilders are notorious for this).

Additionally, at the end of every training season, most athletes will take anywhere from 2-4 weeks away from their sport during what is called the transition phase (where you transition from the previous season of training to the next). This used to be called the off-season, athletes would sit around for a month or two but, with periods that extended, they would detrain and lose a lot of fitness. Now it’s closer to 2-4 weeks but with some amount of activity to prevent too much fitness loss.


The short of the situation is this:

  • If you can’t remember the last time you took a break, now is a good time. Face your fears.
  • If you have any of the symptoms listed above physically, now is a good time for a break.
  • Don’t discount the mental side.  If you just aren’t “into it” at the gym, burn-out is real, listen to your body and what it’s trying to tell you. TAKE a break.  When you come back to the gym you’ll be pumped to be there.
  • If your weight loss has stalled or your joints hurt it’s time for a break.

My suggestions for break time?

  • Eat good foods.  Use this time to really concentrate on your diet, eating stuff without labels and getting plenty of protein, and FATS (great for your hormone levels, joints, etc.) and focus on eating some anti-inflammatory foods like fish oil, coconut oil, pineapple and cherries.
  • Make good friends with the foam roller.  Use this time to roll every day and find your tender spots.  Get your body back into alignment.
  • Get a massage
  • Go see the chiropractor before/after said massage
  • Drink lots of water
  • Enjoy the rest and maybe get in the sun for a little extra vitamin D you may have been missing out on
  • Catch up on some reading, never have time? Now is good.
  • Reevaluate your training plans and goals.  Is it working for you?

As always, I”d love to hear your thoughts.  Have any of you been here? Are you a rehabbed Thing 1 or Thing 2 and proud to have joined the “moderate” group?  Share you success stories and leave your questions, I’m always here for you.  And join my conversation over on Facebook, I post a lot of great articles there as well.

How to Lose Fat – The TRUTH About Fat Loss

How to Lose Fat – The TRUTH About Fat Loss

Even though the main impetus of Music Strong is to help people create stronger, less pain-riddled, more mobile, fully functioning bodies (with an emphasis on musicians) as a personal trainer, the majority of my clients still come to me with one main goal in mind: FAT LOSS.  That’s why YOU would hire a personal trainer, right? Even though exercise can have a great impact on body composition (within the realm of gaining shape, muscle, more definition, etc.) the results you do or do not achieve when it comes to fat loss are directly related to what goes in (or does not go into) your mouth.

With every program I write, I give each client some general nutritional advice. My goal is to educate my clients on good food choices that will help them achieve their goals, but most can’t, won’t or just don’t seem to follow it because I’m “too vague”. You see, most diets today use gimmicks to achieve results.  They have one thing in common though, and that is that they achieve the same goal, the one true thing that will achieve fat loss, A CALORIC DEFICIT. If you do not eat less than you need, you will not lose weight/fat, period.

I don’t care if it’s organic, vegan, vegetarian, home-grown, scratch-made or anything else – you eat more than you need you won’t lose. PERIOD.

  • Weight Watchers has you track points. You stay at your points or under and you lose weight because you have created a CALORIC DEFICIT.
  • Adkins eliminates all carbs = less calories = CALORIC DEFICIT
  • Paleo eliminates processed foods and grains, this has you eating less calorically dense foods which can = a CALORIC DEFICIT.
  • “Clean Eating” has you eliminate most processed foods (which are more calorically dense) and focus on “clean” foods (i.e. 1-ingredient, non-packaged items) causing you to fill up faster on less calories which =  A CALORIC DEFICIT.
  • Even Slim Fast: 2 shakes per day and a “sensible dinner”. What the heck does that mean? You know, deep down what that means, it’s common sense, it’s what your ENTIRE diet should be comprised of, however, since you replaced 2 meals with liquid you have created a CALORIC DEFICIT.

See a trend?

Sadly, most people think that the balanced approach won’t work for them because it’s “too vague”.  Sure, it’s more vague because you don’t eliminate entire food groups, you have less rules and you know what the real problem is?  It makes you WORK for it.  It means you have to educate yourself.  You have to read labels, count calories, write down your food and most of all PAY ATTENTION.  This is the main problem for our country, we have no attention span and when it comes to fat loss, which is hard enough on its own, telling us to work for it by:

  • cooking meals yourself (not pre-packaged diet foods via Lean Cuisine, etc)
  • Reading nutritional labels
  • writing down what you eat
  • counting calories – yes ALL of them
  • planning out what you are going to eat for the day with each meal having protein, carbs and fat, and not just eliminating a food group or a meal all together…

Yes, it’s harder, but it’s also worth it.  Why? Because you can eat like a normal person, just less and lose. And the kicker is, when you get to the weight at which you want to be, you can maintain that weight doing the same things that got you there, only eating a little bit more.  What happens when Atkins is over? You eat carbs again, you get fat again. Why? Because you didn’t change your HABITS.

More work, but worth it.  Enough of my ranting, listen to the author below (full link is above to the blog) – they say it so eloquently. :)


How To Lose Fat – The TRUTH About Fat Loss

There’s a million reasons why people fail to lose fat, but somewhere at the top of that list is just a fundamental lack of understanding of the scientifically proven principals of how to lose fat.

To show you exactly what I mean, let’s start this off with a list of things that DON’T cause fat loss.

Things That DO NOT Cause Fat Loss:

  • Eating healthy.
  • Eating “clean.”
  • Eating less carbs.
  • Eating less fat.
  • Eating less junk food.
  • Eating less sugar.
  • Eating 6 smaller meals per day/every 3 hours.
  • Eating “good” foods instead of “bad” foods.
  • Not eating after 7pm.
  • Cardio.
  • Weight training.
  • Building muscle and/or getting stronger.
  • And MUCH more.

These are all things that can definitely HELP a person lose fat and can definitely assist in the overall fat loss process. But, in and of themselves, not a single thing on that list actually causes fat to be lost.

They never have, and they never will. In fact, not a single one of these things actually needs to be done. You can do the complete opposite of every item on that list and still lose fat just fine so long as one specific thing IS being done.

So, what is this “thing?” What actually causes fat loss? Let’s find out…

How To Lose Fat: The One Absolute Requirement

Simply put… a caloric deficit. That is the scientifically proven “secret” to losing fat. It literally can’t happen any other way.

So just what is a caloric deficit? It’s what happens when you burn more calories than you consume (or consume less calories than you burn… just another way of saying the same thing).

Basically, every single person has a unique calorie maintenance level. This is the amount of calories that your body requires each day to burn for energy to perform all of the tasks it needs to perform. From intense exercise like cardio and weight training, to simple daily tasks like brushing your teeth and getting dressed, to the various physiological functions needed to keep you alive (like digesting and breathing).

Calories are what our bodies use for energy to do all of these things, and we provide these calories via the foods we eat. As a result, 3 things can happen…

The 3 Calorie Intake Scenarios

  1. If we consume the SAME number of calories that our bodies need to burn each day, we will be at our maintenance level. Our weight will be maintained because all of the calories we needed were provided. No more, no less.
  2. If we exceed this amount and therefore consume MORE calories than our bodies need, all of the left over calories that weren’t burned will then be stored on our body in some form for later use. And guess what form it’s most often stored in? Yup… body fat! This is known as a caloric surplus, and it is the one and only cause of fat gain.
  3. But what we’re interested in is the opposite of this… a caloric deficit. This is what happens when we consume LESS than our maintenance level amount. What happens then is that our bodies are forced to find some other source of energy to burn instead. And guess what that source most often is? Yup… your own stored body fat! And this is the one and only cause of fat loss.

So if you maintain your current weight eating 2500 calories per day (just an example), you will gain weight (mostly in the form of body fat) if you consumed 3000 calories per day. However, you would lose weight (mostly in the form of body fat) if you consumed 2000 calories per day.

This all remains true regardless of what the source of those calories are (carbs, fat, protein, healthy, unhealthy, clean, dirty, processed, unprocessed… whatever) or when/how they were consumed (after 7pm, in 3 large meals, in 6 small meals, every 2 hours, every 5 hours, whatever).

Exercise Can Play A Role, Too

See how it works? These are the proven fundamentals of how to lose fat, and that was a simple example of how to create the required caloric deficit via your diet alone (by eating less calories). I mention this because that same deficit could have also been created via exercise (by burning more calories).

Meaning, you could have still eaten 2500 calories for the day in the previous example, but then burned an additional 500 through exercise thus creating the same caloric deficit. Both scenarios would effectively cause fat loss, as would a third scenario where you did a combination of both (diet AND exercise).

But no matter which way you choose to do it, one absolute requirement ALWAYS stands. In order to lose fat, you MUST create a caloric deficit. Nothing else works.

But Then How Do Other Fat Loss Diets Work?

This is the point when various stubborn, misinformed or just annoyingly stupid people like to mention that other diets cause people to lose fat all the time, and those diets have nothing to do with creating a caloric deficit.

I mean, people lose fat on low carb diets, low fat diets, paleo diets, vegan diets, raw food diets, diets that involve eating “clean” instead of “dirty” or not eating after a certain time at night, and countless other types of diets that involve every gimmick, fad and method you can think of except the specific task of creating a caloric deficit. But yet, they have all caused people to successfully lose fat.

What the hell? How can that be? If the only requirement for fat loss is a caloric deficit, and all of these diets have nothing to do with a caloric deficit, then how do they work? Obviously I must be wrong about all this calorie stuff, right?


You see, all of these diets and methods just indirectly cause you to create that caloric deficit.

What I mean is, any diet that actually causes you to lose fat did so because it caused you to create a caloric deficit. That’s a fact. There is literally NOTHING else that could possibly make it happen. This is the most basic proven science of the human body. Calories in vs calories out (aka the law of thermodynamics) is ALWAYS the basis for fat loss (or gain).

These diets and methods might never come right out and admit that or say you just need to eat less calories (partly because it doesn’t fit with their gimmick, partly because people don’t want to hear that they have to [GASP!] count calories or [GASP!] eat less of them, and partly because it’s hard to make money off of something that is simple, obvious and free.)

BUT every successful fat loss diet makes you do it anyway. How? By getting you to do things that just so happen to restrict or reduce your calorie intake. For example…

  • Eating less carbs means you’re eating less calories.
  • Eating less fat means you’re eating less calories.
  • Eating less “dirty” junk food means you’re eating less calories.
  • Eating less processed foods means you’re eating less calories.
  • Eating less grains means you’re eating less calories.
  • Not eating after 7pm causes you to eat less calories.
  • A raw food diet, vegan diet, paleo diet or any remotely similar diet eliminates many of the foods you were regularly eating, which means you’re now eating less calories.

Noticing a trend? In every single case, less calories end up being eaten. And like magic, it causes you to lose fat. But what some people incorrectly think is that it was the reduction in carbs, or fat, or grains, or sugar, or junk food, or processed food, or not eating after 7pm or whatever else that made it happen.

It wasn’t.

It was the reduction in calories that indirectly came as a result of all of these other things. Sure, these “things” are what caused the deficit to be created, but the deficit itself is what actually caused you to lose fat.

And that’s how various fat loss diets/methods work despite not directly making you eat less calories. They just get you to do things that make you eat less calories anyway.

There’s A Ton Of Ways To Create Your Deficit… Pick Your Favorite

Now, if you want to create your caloric deficit by using any of these diets and methods, that is perfectly fine by me. If any of these or other manners of eating appeal to you for whatever reason, then I’m all for you using it to reach your fat loss goals.

But if you’d rather just directly create your ideal caloric deficit and then get the calories you do consume from a nice balance of protein, fat and carbs comprised solely of foods you actually enjoy eating in a format that is actually convenient and preferable for you, then that’s fine by me too.

In fact, it’s what I personally do and most often recommend. I explain exactly how to do it (for FREE) right here: The Best Diet Plan

The point I’m making however is that in every single case with every other diet or method, the reason it works is simply because a caloric deficit was present. And if it didn’t work, then it’s simply because a caloric deficit wasn’t present.

There is no other magic or voodoo involved in the actual cause (or lack thereof) of fat loss. It always comes down to calories in vs calories out.

But wait, what’s that? You think I’m lying? You think I’m making this all up? You think this is just my opinion or gimmick?

If for whatever reason you still aren’t convinced that what I’m saying is true and accurate (likely as a result of years of nutritional brainwashing), then allow me to present some additional proof.

Still Don’t Believe Me? Here’s Some Proof…

There is such an overwhelming (and seemingly infinite) amount of legitimate evidence showing that everything I’ve explained thus far is 100% true and accurate that I honestly don’t even know where to begin.

So, here now is just a SUPER TINY sample of some of the MANY examples that come to mind…

  • Metabolic and behavioral effects of a high-sucrose diet during weight loss.
    This study took 2 groups of women and put them on similar hypocaloric diets (meaning below maintenance level so that a caloric deficit was present). The only difference between the diets of the two groups is that 43% of one group’s daily calorie intake came from sucrose (aka table sugar), while just 4% of the other group’s daily calorie intake came from sucrose. Guess what happened? Despite one group eating a VERY high sugar diet and the other group eating a VERY low sugar diet, they both lost equal amounts of weight and body fat. Why? Because it’s NOT the source of your calories that causes fat loss, it’s the presence of a caloric deficit.
  • Increased meal frequency does not promote greater weight loss [...]
    This study took 16 overweight men and women and split them into 2 groups. They then had each person in each group create the same sized caloric deficit and then consume that same calorie intake every day for 8 weeks. HOWEVER, they had one group eat 3 meals a day, and the other group eat 6 meals a day. Guess what happened? They all lost the same amount of weight. In fact, the study showed that there was no difference at all in fat loss, appetite control, or anything similar. Why? Because meal frequency doesn’t affect your ability to lose fat or gain fat. Calories do.
  • Comparison of isocaloric very low carbohydrate/high saturated fat and high carbohydrate [...]
    This study took 83 subjects, estimated the daily calorie requirements of each person (aka their maintenance levels), and then created a caloric deficit of 30%. They then divided them up into 3 groups. The first had only 4% of their total daily calorie intake coming from carbs. The second had 50% of their total calorie intake coming from carbs. The third had 70% of their total calorie intake coming from carbs. Guess what happened? Even though some people were eating a VERY LOW carb diet and others were eating a VERY HIGH carb diet… they all lost the same amount of weight and body fat. Why? Because low carb or high carb isn’t what makes us gain or lose fat. Calories are, regardless of how many of them come from carbs.
  • Similar weight loss with low-energy food combining or balanced diets.
    This study divided 54 obese patients up into 2 groups, both of which were put on low calorie diets (meaning a caloric deficit was present) and fed similar percentages of protein, fat and carbs. HOWEVER, one group was given a more balanced diet comprised of meals that contained protein, fat and carbs, while the second group had their carb and fat calories separated so they were not eaten together in the same meal. Guess what happened? They all lost the same amount of weight and body fat. Why? Because the manner in which you combine foods, organize your meals and consume your daily calories isn’t what causes fat loss. A caloric deficit is.
  • Fat loss depends on energy deficit only, independently of the method for weight loss.
    This study divided its subjects up into 2 groups, and had them both create the same sized caloric deficit. HOWEVER, the difference between them was the manner in which this deficit was created. One group did it by eating less total calories (diet alone), but the other group did it by eating less total calories AND burning more calories by doing cardio (a combination of diet AND exercise). But again, the total weekly caloric deficit was the same for both groups. Guess what happened? They all lost the same amount of weight and body fat. Why? Because a deficit of X calories is a deficit of X calories regardless of whether you burned those calories off via cardio or just didn’t eat them in the first place. Fat loss isn’t about how you create the deficit, it’s just about the deficit itself.
  • The Twinkie Diet
    You know what? This one is so F-ing fantastic that a quick bullet point just doesn’t do it justice. So…

The Twinkie Diet

And finally, here’s the holy grail of proof for anyone that’s still even remotely skeptical that this whole calorie thing (and by “thing” I mean scientifically proven fact) truly is the singular answer to the almighty “how to lose fat” question.

In 2010, Mark Haub (who is a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University) wanted to prove the very same thing I’ve been explaining: that fat loss and fat gain always happen as a result of calories in vs calories out, and that a caloric deficit will ALWAYS cause a person to lose fat no matter what food sources those calories come from.

To do this, Mark took things to a very extreme point-making level that I would never actually recommend, but absolutely love for the purpose of proving that calories are what matter most.

Specifically, Mark went on a 10-week diet comprised primarily of snack foods. Twinkies, Little Debbie cakes, Doritos, Oreos, sugary cereals like Corn Pops and other equally crappy foods that are all highly processed, lacking in nutritional value, loaded with sugar and “bad” carbs, high in “bad” fat, contain trans fat, and possess other similar traits that are common among typical “junk food.”

But, he also created a caloric deficit.

He went from eating 2600 calories per day (his estimated maintenance level) to eating about 1800 calories per day instead. He just so happened to get the majority of those 1800 daily calories from the most junky foods you can think of.

The purpose? To prove that despite his daily diet being loaded with sugar-filled garbage and junk food, he’d still lose fat just fine because a caloric deficit was present.

The result? He lost 27lbs in 2 months and reduced his body fat percentage from 33.4% to 24.9%.

The conclusion? A caloric deficit is the sole cause of fat loss. Even if those calories come from the shittiest sources known to mankind, fat will STILL be lost. It’s not the source or the quality of those foods and the calories they provide… it’s the total quantity of it all.

The Opposite Is True, Too

And even though Mark didn’t do a reverse version of this “experiment,” the opposite would be true, too. Meaning, creating a caloric surplus, regardless of the content of those calories, will ALWAYS cause those excess calories to be stored on your body in some form (most often as body fat).

This is equally true whether those calories come from only the healthiest, “cleanest,” most natural and nutritious foods on the planet, or the same type of junky garbage eaten in Mark’s experiment. What matters is the caloric surplus itself, not the form or manner in which that surplus was provided.

Or, to put it another way, eating too many “healthy” and “clean” foods will make you fat just the same as eating too many “unhealthy” and “dirty” foods will. It’s always the “eating too much” part that causes this to happen, not the specific foods that were or were not eaten.

The Example Is Extreme, But Understand Its Point

Yes, what Mark did is a CRAZY extreme example, and NO, I’d never recommend anyone try to actually eat like that. I’m all about getting a sufficient amount of protein, fat and carbs primarily from higher quality, natural, nutrient-dense foods you enjoy, and keeping the typical junkier foods to a sane yet enjoyable and sustainable minimum.

What I want you to do however is look at this example for what it is… clear undeniable proof that fat loss occurs strictly as a result of eating less total calories.

It doesn’t happen as a result of what you eat, when you eat or how you eat. It happens solely as a result of HOW MUCH you eat. And if a dude losing fat while practically eating nothing but Twinkies and Oreos still doesn’t prove this to you… then you are a lost cause.

Feel free to get together with the others who are just like you (of which there are unfortunately and pathetically plenty), and continue to dispense your horrendously bad diet and exercise advice together while quoting various inaccurate sources of information.

Summing Up Fat Loss

So, for anyone who wanted to know how to lose fat… here’s how. Create a caloric deficit. That is ALL that EVER works.

Yes, there are a million other factors and components of your diet and workout that play important roles in successfully, permanently and efficiently getting you to lose fat (while also maintaining lean muscle mass and being healthy), and a million ways to go about creating that deficit in a way that is as easy, enjoyable and sustainable for you as possible.

Once again, I fully explain how to do all of that right here: The Best Diet Plan

However, the big point I’m getting at is that ALL OF IT is completely irrelevant and useless to your goal of losing fat in the absence of that required caloric deficit.

Anyone who disagrees or claims otherwise is often either wrong or just trying to sell you something that is definitely NOT worth buying. In other words, they should be ignored completely 100% of the time.

Oh… and mocked, too.

Florida Flute Convention 2012

Are you going to be going to the Florida Flute Convention this year? I am and am excited to announce that I be giving two presentations.

Being A Flutist in the National Guard – Friday 4:30 PM

The first presentation will be Friday at 4:30 PM and is entitled “Being a Flutist in the National Guard”.

Drawing on my 8 years of experience as a member of the 129th Army National Guard Band and as a recruiting assistant,I wool be bringing you all kind of information to let you know about this viable job opportunity, the demands and the perks of joining. So many musicians know about the Premier bands and Active Duty band but are unaware that there is a part time military band opportunity that offers fool time benefits but would allow you to go to school, finish school, keep your job and not even have to move to live somewhere else. There will be time for Q&A and LOTS of FREE goodies to everyone who comes. If you have a question you would like answered, feel free to leave a comment below, email me at Angela@Music, or leave a message on the facebook page.

Morning Mobility – Sunday 9 AM

The second presentation wool be given in Sunday morning at 9AM and is entitled “Morning Mobility”.

This presentation will be more of an interactive workshop as I will lead you through a property whole body warm yup to address your muscle imbalances, increase your mobility, and get you ready to play for the day. Exercises and stretches learned will be appropriate for preparing fits the practice eton out the weight room. In addition, the equipment used in class shook be available for purchase right then: $15 for a foam roller and $5 for a mini-band. This will save you cost plus shipping if you were to buy them online and this way tippy learn how to use them right in the class and can take them with you to start using right away whereas if you wait to buy you might forget how to use them. Again, if you have specific areas our questions you would like addressed, leave a comment below, email me or leave a message on the facebook page.

Special Bonuses for Flute Convention Attendees!

Bonus #1 FREE Assessment

As a special bonus for those already at the convention,I will be offering FREE live assessments and consultations, to get yours all you need to do is email me to let nd know you are interested and we will set up a time. There is no cost and no obligation for this, the info is free and I will be able to show  you your probable individual muscle imbalances and exercises and stretches to help you address them.

Bonus #2

As a secondary bonus, I will also be offering single training sessions at a reduced rate. If you would like to get a free assessment with me AND an individualized workout where I can lead you through a proper workout for you to take home and do on your own, I will be offering training sessions in the hotel gym for $40 for a whole hour, that’s a reduction of from my usual hourly rate of $65 – a $25 savings!  Again, this offer is only good through Sunday the 29th.  I will be arriving at the hotel Thursday night and will have time that evening, Friday morning and select hours thereafter to lead you through your workout.  Contact me TODAY!

Bonus #3

As a thank-you to all convention attendees, if you sign up with me for 3 months, you will get 50% off your first month with me!  With online training only costing $100/mo, that’s a $50 savings and you get SO much: an assessment, individualized plan, access to online meal tracking softwear and video demonstrations, goal tracking information, motivational emails, Skype session, nutritional information and more!  This is a deal that can’t be beat, so make sure to sign up with me at the Convention, because this deal expires on Sunday the 29th.


So, to reiterrate, here are your bonuses if you are going to the convention:

  • Free assessment
  • Special reduced price of $40 for 1-hour on-site training session
  • 50% off first month of training with me when you sign up for 3 months of training

What do you need to do to take advantage of these offers?

  • Contact me via Facebook:
  • Send me an email at
  • Leave a message below this post
  • At the convention, you can get ahold of me by texting/calling 931-698-3130.

See you in Orlando!!!

Top 10 Fitness Gifts for 2011

Merry Christmas!

Hard to believe it’s here, isn’t it?  While you’re out doing your Christmas shopping, admit it, occasionally you buy your gifts with an ulterior motive.  Sometimes you buy your husband a gift certificate to Netflix, a restaurant or the movies…because you know you will benefit from it, too.  Well, fitness gifts can have that reputation, too.  In fact, if you gave a person you love a gift certificate for personal training, even though they say they want to get in shape, isn’t it usually given to the spouse or loved one that you really wish would get healthy/lose fat/insert ulterior motive here?

Of course you do!

Whether you have ulterior motives, you are looking for good gifts to help the ones you love feel better, or you’re just looking for a good deal for yourself for the Christmas and heck, why not treat yourself?  Isn’t one of the best gifts you can give your spouse is taking care of your health?

That said, I’ve compiled a list of my top 10 fitness gifts for this year.


Foam Roller

If by now, you don’t know why I love foam rollers, you obviously haven’t been reading many of my posts?  Why give yourself or someone you love the gift of a 1-time massage when you can give the gift of daily self-massage?  Foam rollers provide just that.  They break up adhesions, release trigger points, increase mobility and circulation and just feel GOOD!

From Lee Burton, PhD, ATC, CSCS

“Using sticks and foam rolls can be a great way to prepare your body for a more dynamic warm-up or movement prep activity.  These can provide an increase in blood flow or create more extensibility in the tissue which will allow for more effective mobility and flexibility work.  These two pieces of equipment also play an integral role in recovery after a workout to help alleviate soreness, trigger points, or tightness in tissue.  Sticks will provide more isolated pressure over a specific area of a muscle which may be sore due to a trigger point.  Foam rolls provide general pressure which will help increase blood flow, assisting in alleviating generalized soreness after a workout.  Both are self-help techniques which should be part of a both the warm-up and recovery phases of training.”

The Stick

Funny name, but that’s exactly what it is: a stick with rolling individual spindles that increase blood flow and massage the knots out of your body.  These are excellent for those who cannot use foam rollers (like the elderly, those with osteoporosis or the obese)  or those who desire a more concentrated  pressure than the foam rollers provide.


Spikey Ball and Thera-Roll and/or Tennis Ball

These three are along the same lines as the first two, but they provide more targeted treatment.  These items are small and can get into hard to reach places like the rhomboids (in between the shoulder blades), the arch of the foot, in the rotator cuff, the neck, the attachment point of the chest muscles to the arm, etc.  If you’ve ever had a massage, you know that these areas are rife with trigger points and are usually painful. The great thing about all these items is that they are very small, portable and just as effective.

Gymboss Interval Timer

I first found out about this little guy through Martin Berkhan on his Leangains site.  Why do I like it and what is it for?  We all know intervals suck and it’s super easy to take longer than necessary to rest.  Sticking to prescribed rest times in a program (besides tempo) is one of the hardest things to do.  The Gym Boss Timer will beep out your intervals for you after you set them and since it keeps going, you have no excuse not to keep going, too!  Much better than a stopwatch because this is hands free.  You set it and go.

  • Makes workouts easier to plan and execute with more consistency
  • Auto mode repeats intervals; manual mode acts as a countdown timer.
  • 1 or 2 different time intervals can range from 2 seconds to 99 minutes
  • Alarm beeps, vibrates or both in durations of 1, 5 or 10 seconds.

Plate Mates and Fractional Plates

I love these little gems.  If you’ve ever done the Dogg Crapp 5×5 program or a similar program that has you progressing in a certain way over time, you know that eventually you get stuck and going up 5 lbs. is just too much.  These little guys are magnetic and come in much smaller increments; mine add 1 1/2 lbs.

The fractional plates break it down even smaller, into 1/4 lb.s, 1/2 lbs, 3/4 lbs, 1 lb, etc.  which is a huge motivation booster because when you are trying to bust through that plateau on your deadlift, squat, row, bench, whatever and you only have 5 lbs, you are going to be stuck at that weight for quite a while.  If you have these little guys, you can see progress almost each and every time you go because you are going up in such small increments, you aren’t stalling!

Bumper Plates

I know very few gyms who have these and it drives me crazy.  Why? Well for one, I’m a short lady at only 5’3″ and two, I had to completely scrap my deadlift technique and start over from scratch.  What does this mean?  It means that unless I get boxes, and keep stacking them under the plates and bar, I CANNOT practice setting up correctly for a deadlift because the proper deadlift height is the 45 lb. plates.  I’m sorry, but when you’re new to training, you can’t start out with that much weight, and picking the bar up from the floor with 5′s or 10′s is asking for an injury.  Bumper plates allow you to add only 5-10 lbs. per side but they are the same size as 45 lb. plates.  Problem solved. :)


Mini Bands,JC Travel Bands and Super Bands

These bands, in my opinion, are indispensable for several different reasons.  First off, bands are the easiest and most portable workout equipment you can use.  They fold up into just about any suitcase, backpack, gig bag, you name it and can you say that about a dumbbell?  Even if you don’t belong to a gym or are travelling and can’t get in your normal workout, you can come pretty close to it with bands.  Here are my favorites for what to do with each:

  • mini bands:

    wrap around ankles for lateral band walks for glute activation, place around knees when squatting or pressing as tactile cue to keep knees out
  • JC Travel Bands: just as good as the full-length version but smaller and easier to take when traveling. Favorite feature?  The loop in the middle with the knot at the end.  Perfect for shutting in a door or wrapping around a door knob to do rows, pull downs, face pulls, even  bicep curls.
  • Super bands

    : Best way to improve your pullups: band-assisted pullups.  Also great for x-band walks, partner rows, band-resisted squats, RDL’s and even pushups.


Boot Camp Gift Card

Ok, so ANY exercise class can make you tired.  Why not join a class that will leave you feeling energized, enthused and give you results and the tools you need to carry through on your goals in everyday life?  There are a ton of “boot camp classes” out there, and you have to be careful whom you pick.  Align your goals with the instructor; is the instructor there just to collect money or do they have a vested interest in each and every camper and in getting them their specific results?  That’s for whom you want to look. Sure, we usually think of getting these kinds of things for ourselves, but this really can be a great gift.  I just ran a special and had a few people buy registrations to my boot camp classes for several reasons:

  • her granddaughter is home-schooled and needs more “PE”
  • her sister is overweight and doesn’t fit into the gym scene, but desperately wants to lose weight and be motivated by other people
  • A husband bought it for him and his wife so they could get fit together this new year.  She wanted it for Christmas!
  • She wanted a boot camp class in which she could involve her whole family, not only as a fitness experience, but as a bonding experience, so she bought gift cards for everyone!

As you can see, there really aren’t many reasons not to get in on this one, especially if you join them!

Want to sign up for my boot camp classes or give a gift of a class?  Click here, add your class to the cart and upon checkout, write a note in the “note” box specifying that this is a gift! Include the name of the person and their email address and they will receive a special email note letting them know of your gift to them.

In fact, I’ll make it sweeter for you. Enter the code NEWYEAR at checkout and get 25% off each registration.  That is their first week free!


Personal Training Package

The ultimate in gift giving – the gift of fitness. Cliche? Sure, but with good reason.  If you can give someone the gift of one on one time with a personal trainer, or even sign them up with some friends (maybe even including yourself or your family) in on a semi-private group training session, everyone gets in on the experience.  They end up not only with

  • better self esteem and more confidence
  • fat loss or muscle gain
  • better balance, bone strength and mobility
  • a more positive outlook on life
  • Organization and self-discipline that can easily spill over into other areas of their lives
  • a new wardrobe (they’re buying it, not you! :) )

It’s a great option for those who lack the motivation to get in shape, and really need someone right there to show them what to do, help them along, write out the plan for them, and motivate them. But it’s also a great gift for those who are dedicated “gym rats” who might need some training tweaks or want to train with friends or heck, just could use the extra motivation and guidance once a week or so.  In any case, I’ll say this, I would LOVE for someone to buy ME a package of personal training sessions.  So if they have complained forever about losing the weight or changing their bodies, etc., why not help them stop complaining and start getting the results they want?

Become a Personal Trainer!

Do you know someone who would love to be a trainer but they don’t know where to begin or they just don’t have the money?  It’s not cheap, but getting certified is the first step towards helping countless other people ietheir results, be it muscle gain, strength gain, fat loss, increased mobility, athletic achievement or just getting over all healthier and getting to live without pain.  My job as a trainer is so rewarding to me, and especially as I can see how strength training helps those dearest to me, the musicians in pain get over their imbalances and return to playing with renewed vigor and strength, the payoff is priceless.
So, in today’s tough economy, this is a great way to help someone get a job.  If you or someone you know has been thinking about becoming a trainer, go with the best, go with the only one who will teach you how to ASSESS people and build a plan based on proven, science-backed training model, not bodybuilding myth and media hype.  Give them the best, and get them a certification or a specialization through NASM.


Commit to Making Your New Year’s Resolutions Happen This Year

Can you believe the New Year is almost here? We will be celebrating the arrival of 2012 in 2 weeks, and at the stroke of midnight, thousands and thousands of people will be making the resolution that “ok, this is the year I will FINALLY get in shape, lose the fat,etc.”

We know how those usually happen, right? Well, why not take the steps to actually going through with it? It’s tough to do it on your own, and Panama City Beach Boot Camp is here to help you make it happen!

We’ve got 3 classes in which you can register:

  • Beginner’s
  • Advanced
  • Women’s Only

The Beginner’s and Women’s Only classes will meet 12 times during January (roughly 3x’s a week) and the Advanced class will meet 17 times (roughly 4x’s a week). If you would like to see the class schedule (soon to be finalized), you can view all class dates, times and locations here:

Boot Camp classes make great gifts, too, so if you’re stuck on what to get someone, why not give them the gift of health? Heck, why not get one for yourself, too and then you BOTH can go together?

Why should you join PC Beach Boot Camp instead of any other exercise class?

  • It costs less than a personal training session
  • For a whole month of workouts it’s less than a gym membership with group training sessions
  • You get individualized attention
  • Each camper will get a FREE individualized assessment
  • Any exercise class can make you tired, our class will actually make you healthy, fit and teach you HOW to reach your goals in a lasting way. But you’ll get tired, too!
  • You will get nutritional information, guidance and recipes
  • You will get goal tracking tools
  • Weekly encouragement from your trainer
  • The cameraderie of being in a motivational close-knit class where everyone is meeting their goals together. Peer support (and sometimes pressure) can be one of the most important tools to reaching your fitness goals.
  • We will help you overcome your specific muscle imbalances by showing you HOW to take care of yourself inside and outside of class.
  • Access to – the online resource for exercise tracking, instruction, meal tracking and sample meal plans made out by registered dieticians, goal tracking, you name it!
  • Discounts on Music Strong Personal Training packages!
  • Discounts with Massage Works!

So as you can see, there are a myriad of reasons you should join, and not a whole lot of reasons why you shouldn’t. So stop with the excuses and commit to finally making it happen. Fat loss should be a short-term journey, not a life-long one. Get it done, get fit, get healthy, get mobile!

To register for classes, go to either


And just to sweeten the deal, if you need a little incentive to sign up, how about a discount?

If you purchase NOW, through the Music Strong site, you will get your first week FREE. That’s 25% off a whole month!

And when you join, you’ll be given the option at your first class to trade that in for an even SWEETER deal…but you’ll have to register to find out what THAT is.

So go to and add your class to the cart. At checkout, enter the coupon code NEWYEAR for your discount and then watch your inbox for goodies, your information packet and all kinds of fun stuff about the classes.

A New and Improved Shoulder Circuit for Musician and Desk Jockey Health

Today I bring you a post from Coach Nick Tuminello. He has written a whole series on the rhomboids, lower traps, and all those key areas that can be problem spots to musicians and desk jockeys alike.  Whether you spend your day locked in a practice room or locked behind a desk and yearn to have strong shoulders and a pain free back, this article is for you.

I can’t highly recommend this series enough.  The rhomboids are a muscle that has become chronically stretched and weakened in our “bent over” society: when one bends over a steering wheel, table, computer or music stand the arms pull forward stretching the upper back muscles (and the rhomboids) forward when their main job is to contract and pull the shoulder blades BACK.  This can cause weakness, pain and ultimately lead to injury.

The YTWL is a warm-up that I have been seeing and using for quite a long time, sadly, I hardly ever see anyone in the weight room using these movements and if I do, they do them incorrectly.  Read and learn and if you want more detailed information he has a whole series on his blog, but he sums it up pretty nicely here.

Love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!

LYTP – A New and Improved YTWL!!!

To conclude my whole TRUTH about the YTWL Shoulder series. I wanted to do a recap summary of everything that was covered in my recent posts. – If you have already read/watched each post. Its still a good idea to read this because I’ve thrown a few key points that have yet to be covered. If you have not seen any of the TRUTH about the YTWL posts. I highly suggest you take a close look at each of the videos. -

An Swift and Orderly Change

- First off, the YTWL  is no longer Y-T-W-L It’s now the L-Y-T-P – The L’s are put first for the simple reason that they are the hardest / weakest movement. It only makes sense, if you place the weakest movement last, as in the traditional method, you’re more likely to have a harder time doing it correctly due to fatigue. – I’ve never understood why any one would put the weakest movement first. I guess we all just went in the order of the name YTWL. The L came last in the name so it came last in training. Well, no more! It’s L’s first from now on! -

Better Positioning = Better Results

Another issue that needed to be resolved is the traditional body positioning before performing the YTWL. Most folks are doing these from one of two positions – 1. Standing, bent over in a similar fashion to an RDL or how a Baseball short stop would stand. 2. Lying prone on the floor or on a bench. – Along with my good friend and colleague Mike Robertson,I really like the standing version! As Mike says “its a great way to integrate the torso”. How right he is! – Standing with the torso at a 45 degree angle is also a great way to change the force angle of the LYTP series. That said, I do have a problem with the prone version. – While doing the prone version from the floor or bench, there is nothing preventing you from extending your lumbar spine and reenforcing a compensatory/ dysfunctional pattern. – By using a stability ball and a bent knee position, you eliminate all possibility of the lumbar extension. – Plus, as Mike Robertson says “lying prone on a physioball so that they are forced to extend their t-spine actively versus passively”. – Mike is one of the best in our field because he understands this stuff and I highly recommend reading his Blog and checking out Mike’s products. -

Check out this video for more on how to use a swiss ball to improve your LYTP shoulder exercises.

A Quick Disclaimer

Before I move on to cover the rest of the letters (YTW), I wanted to make something very clear. My recommendations for each of these applications is very general and based on what I fell to be best for most healthy, uninjured people. – With these and any other exercise applications, there is never just one way to do things. I’m most certainly not claiming that these techniques are the best and only right way to do your shoulder pre-hab training. – As a Strength Coach, it’s my job to find methods that maximize success and minimizes error. I will tell you with confidence that, each of these techniques has been well thought out and battle tested successful in my setting with 100′s of clients and athletes of all levels. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, lets talk some more shop!

A New Angle on Y’s

The first thing I want to address here is hand position. – When your hand goes over head as they do when performing Y’s, the safest position for your shoulder to be in is the neutral position. This is with your thumbs point toward the sky, if you’re lying prone. – This is not a new concept and fairly understood among coaches and trainers. However, I have seem some coaches performing Y’s while holding a dowel rod. This is problem because holding the dowel takes you out of neutral and places your shoulders into some internal rotation. In doing so, there is NO added muscular benefit, only an increased risk or shoulder irritation and impingement issues. -

This is why I choose not to use a dowel rod or to keep the palms flat while doing Y’s. So, when doing Y’s, keep those thumbs pointed up, toward the sky! -

Why Don’t Your Y’s Look Like Y’s?

The next mistake folks seem to be making, is the angle at which they are performing the Y’s. In many cases, people place their arms next to their ears (parallel to one another) as in a superman position. – First off, this arm position doesn’t even make a Y, it makes an I. – Secondly, and more importantly, this is not the best strategy to maximize recruitment of the lower traps which is the intended goal of the exercise. – Here’s a quick anatomy lesson. trapeziusAs you can clearly see in the picture, the lower trap muscle fibers run at a 45 degree angle. The best way to stimulate a muscle is to line up the force vector with the line of muscle (fibers) pull. – In other words, in order to perform Y’s effectively, the arms should be placed at 45 degree angle ( in the same line as the low trap fibers). – Some folks do Y’s with their arms at more of an angle. But, in most cases the angle is not as wide as it should be relative to the angle of the fibers in the low traps.

You can watch the video below to see the angle I recommend.

No More I’s

Certain folks are actually doing I’s (arms parallel) along with the rest of the letters. I recommend against this because there is no added muscular  benefit, only more room for error and compensation. -

How to get Maximal Lower Trap Recruitment

I could make this part a long and complicated discussion. But, its not my style. So, I’m going to hit the ground running.

If your arms are at the correct 45 degree angle, as I described above, there is no need to consciously pull your shoulder blades back and down as most coaches recommend. – In fact, doing so will more than likely cause you to compensate and use your lats as the primary muscle. This is also described in the below video. -

A great way to prevent compensation and maximally stimulate the lower traps, is to use a technique I learned from world renowned physical therapist Mark Comerford.- Once your ams are fully lifted into the Y position, attempt to reach outward away from your body. In other words, try to make your arms longer. If your arms are at the correct angle, you will NOT shrug your shoulders and compensate by using levator scap. – Due to the fact that lower trap is primarily a low load, local stabilizer muscle, this reaching out of the arms action will cause lower trap to activate to create scapular stability. -

Its also important to note, that due to fact that lower trap is primarily a low load stabilizer, it should be trained in a different load/ rep range than the rhomboids. Meaning, you will use a different rep range doing Y’s than you would doing doing T’s. – When doing Y’s, I recommend performing 5-10, 3-5 second isometric reps. I would also keep the weight low. 

(as a side note, you can see my other blog post about recruiting the lower traps)

See this video for more on Y’s

A Small Twist for Big Results on T’s

The goal of T’s is to hit primarily the rhomboids and mid traps. In order to do this, two adjustments from the traditional method need to be made. – First, when doing T’s its not necessary to external rotate your shoulders (keep your thumbs up). This has been recommended to add the additional stimulation of the external rotator muscles. – The problem with this is that most people don’t have weak external rotators as we once thought. Instead, we tend to have overused external shoulder external rotators. See the TRUTH about W’s video below for more on that. – Hard training on already overworked and irritated tissue is never a good idea. So, again, no need for that added external rotation.

If in the case you do actually have weak external rotators (which should be determined by a qualified physical therapist – not a trainer/coach who just attended a weekend assessment course), this weakness can cause them to struggle while doing T’s and interfere with the quality of the movement. – It can also distract them from the primary goal of this exercsie, which as I’ve said is to strengthen rhomboids and mid traps. As they say, if you chase two rabbits, you’ll never catch either. – In short, L’s are designed to strengthen your external rotators and therfore are better suited for that purpose. -

How to Maximally Recruit Your Rhombiods

While doing T’s, keep your shoulders and hands neutral (palms down while prone). – As you raise your arms to the side, pull your arms toward the mid-line of your body. – anatomy-rhomboids-256x300Don’t think of retracting you shoulder blades back and down. – Your rhomboids are responsible for scapular retraction and elevation. So, if your pull your shoulder blades down, you decrease rhomboid activation. – Plus , if you just think of puling your shoulder blades downward, you end up using your lats instead of rhomboids.

To reduce any chance of mistakes/compensation and maximize rhomboid recruitment, attempt to shorten your arms as if some one were trying to pull them out of the sockets. – Yes I know, this is the complete opposite of what I recommended earlier for performing Y’s. – It’s different for good reason!

Your Rhomboids are primarily mobility muscles. Where as you low traps are primarily stability muscles. – Put simply, muscles with different functional roles require different training protocols. – Unlike the low traps, the rhomboids are  high load dominat, mobilizers muscles. Therefore , we take a more traditional approach to training them by using heavier loads, with normal tempos for 8-12 reps. -

See this video for more on T’s…

Out with W’s, In with P’s

I’ve already given you more than enough smarter strategies for shoulder training to make your head explode. So,to keep you from having a brain overload, I’m going to keep this one short and to the point. – The W is the most useless of all the letters in the YTWL shoulder circuit. I explain exactly why in the video below. – I have replaced the W’s with P’s. The P stands for Pivot Prones, which are demonstrated in the below video as well. -

If you are wondering where the idea for the pivot prone comes from, the name originates from a neural developmental position we all learn before we start to crawl, while lying prone (on our belly) as infants. 

“At approx 5 months of age the child develops an interesting skill that contributes to their pelvic and scapular mobility.”“During the Pivot Prone posture or pattern, the upper extremities assume the high guard position with the scapulas adducted by the rhomboid muscles. The upper limbs are horizontally abducted at the shoulders and flexed at the elbows. This retraction of the shoulder girdle and posturing of the upper extremities enhances trunk extension. To assume the pivot prone posture, the anterior muscles must elongate.” Pediatric Physical Therapy, By Jan Stephen Tecklin, pg.34, Publisher:Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; Fourth Edition edition (October 1, 2007)

Now, that you understand the origin of this movement pattern, you can better appreciate the important role that pivot prones can play in regaining and maintaining a fundamental movement pattern that we all should posses. _ – Well, there you have it! I’ve given you the knowledge and the tools to improve your shoulder strength, stability and overall health. -

Enter the L,Y,T,P Shoulder Exercise Circuit

Panama City Beach Boot Camp 81% OFF!

One of the products of Music Strong is the Panama City Beach Boot Camp.  I decided that it was a shame to not have any boot camp classes in a non-gym-membership type setting available.  I checked into it and sure enough while we do have the world’s most beautiful beaches, there were no boot camp classes being offered!  And thus, the PC Beach Boot Camp classes were born.


Just recently, the classes have gotten a complete overhaul in terms of how they were structured, payment, types of classes offered and we even added a new indoor location!  To kick off the revamp, the Panama City News Herald Deal of the Day has featured us all this week, December 5-10th, by offering our best option, the Month of Unlimited Boot Camp Classes, a $149 value, for ONLY $29!!!

To take advantage of this sweet deal: GO HERE
You only have a few days left to get in on this deal, and after this weekend prices will go up to normal rates:
4 Weeks: $109

6 Weeks: $129

Unlimited: $149


So get in on this while you can and try the new and improved PC Beach boot camp for only $29!  That’s less than a dollar a day and with 13 classes a week to pick from for 4 weeks, you can go to as many or as few as you want and you’ve still got the best value possible.

For full details, class schedules and updates, visit the Panama City Beach Boot Camp website at:


Again, this offer is only available from December 5-10th, 2011 and classes begin the week of January 1, so don’t miss out!  Go here to purchase and check out the deal!

New Rates Announced!

After much research and deliberation, I am very happy to announce Music Strong’s new training rates.  We are also very excited to announce the launch of our new training option: Semi-Private Group Training.  Here’s a quick overview of our programs and rates.  Keep a lookout for updates to be able to purchase!  For now, if you are interested, please contact me at and we can get started.

One-On-One Private Training: I will come to your home, condo, or place of business and train you personally.  Excellent choice for those new to training, or those who are self-motivated but just need an individualized, periodized training program written for them and motivation 1-2x’s per week.

Semi-Private Group Training: Get the benefits of training with your friends while still getting an individualized program!

Online Training: Perfect for those who do not live in the Panama City area and are self-motivated, but want the stress of designing a periodized, goal-specific training program put into the hands of a NASM-CPT (soon to be CES!).

All programs come with a FREE assesssment to determine your individual muscle compensations and possible weaknesses.



I love flexibility, don’t you?  I’ve designed my training packages to give as much flexibility as possible.  Have a unique situation? Contact me for a unique quote.

Semi-Private Group Training

I offer four different choices for in-home training.  Where you get the most bang for your buck is Semi-Private Group Training.  Most people love the cameraderie and motivation that comes with training in a group and as we all know, having someone to be accountable to is one of the keys to reaching your goals.  Our most effective option, this option is great for several groups:

  • Best friends
  • Walking partners wanting to take fitness to the next level
  • Families
  • Couples
  • Mothers and Daughters
  • Fathers and Sons
  • Brides and bridesmaids

You get the point!  Isn’t it more fun to workout with your best friend? A little friendly competition makes you work harder, which means you get to your goals even faster! Each client will get an individual program unique to your needs and goals, but because the training session is shared, it’s more cost-effective.

Group training can be done in the home of one or another individuals or outside.

Our Semi-Private option is ideal if you:

  • Love the cameraderie and support of training with a group but need an individualized program.
  • You are looking for a cost-effective way to hire a personal trainer.


Short Term Commitment:                                           Annual Commitment:

1 x week: $199 per month x 3 months                             1 x week: $179 per month x 12 months

2 x week: $384 per month x 3 months                            2 x week: $344 per month x 12 months

3 x week: $539 per month x 3 months                           3 x week: $539 per month x 12 months

**Cost is per person



One-On-One Personal Training

For those clients who need more supervised instruction, require the utmost in privacy and attention to detail, 1:1 training is your package.  This is a great precursor to group training, as you will learn the skills you need to progress into training within a group.  This option is ideal for those who:

  • are largely overweight and lead a mostly sedentary lifestyle
  • Have little to no previous strength training experience
  • You have been referred by a doctor, chiropractor, or other medical professional
  • You require detailed technical instruction and closely supervised practice
  • You prefer the additional privacy of 1:1 training

The beauty of this program is that, just like group training, I will come train you in the comfort and privacy of your own home, and you have no fear of failure in front of others.  There will be no other people to make you feel uncomfortable, no need to feel inadequate or out of place and you get 1:1 time with me.  You will still receive a FREE assessment where I will determine your possible muscle compensations and weaknesses and from there you will get an individualized training program that I will go through with you, step by step, exercise by exercise as you gain confidence and knowledge.

We offer three options, with the monthly option being the best value.  Not only are the rates reduced per session, with the 3 month commitment, you will have the opportunity to see your strength, fat loss or muslce gain, balance and coordination progress.


Short Term Commitment                                         

1 x per week: $200 x 3 months ($55/session)

2 x per week: $400 x 3 months ($50/session)

3 x per week: $540 x 3 months ($45/session)



With the individual packages, this is a good option for those who:

  • are largely self-motivated
  •  have a good amount of training experience but could use the supervision and motivation of a trainer 1-3x’s per week

Individual Session Packages

Single Session: $65/hr

4 sessions: $60/hr

8 sessions: $55/hr

12 sessions: $50/hr

24 sessions: $45/hr


Online Training

This option is excellent for those who are not in the Panama City area, but would like to still have a periodized training program that is designed specifically for them with their individual compensations addressed and goals in mind.  With this option, you will have access to  I will design your training and/or cardio programs and they will be laid out for you on your own training calendar there.  You can log in, see your program laid out, complete with exercise videos and descriptions of each exercise.  You can also keep track of your diet, log your food, take your measurements and see your progress graphed on your chart.
All this for a commitment of only $100 a month. 


Gift certificates are also available. If you are interested in supporting Music Strong and giving the gift of fitness, please contact us with the package you would like to purchase and the details of the person to whom it is being given.  We will give you instructions from there.  We will have the kinks out of the system soon and the option to purchase up very soon, so please bear with us as we go through this transition period of update.


So stop dreaming and start achieving; let’s get started today!


3 Lean Body Secrets No One Has Told You

3 Lean Body Secrets No One Has Told You | Articles.

Oh how I love this article.  Why?  Because it speaks the truth about what it actually takes to not only GET that lean body but more importantly KEEP it. In fact, as we approach Thanksgiving, the time dedicated for giving thanks for our many blessings…and promptly celebrating those blessings with eating as much of the “special” foods as we can, this article can help you address participating in that, without ruining your life.

It means being weird, sometimes.  Or what your friends might perceive as weird.

You might be riduculed.

Once you get off the fat train and onto the weight loss wagon you might notice the amount of discouragement you receive from your peers.  Those people you thought would support you instead try to sabotage you!  They see you losing weight and their first instinct is to bring you food and say “oh one donut won’t hurt, why not go off your diet for one day”?  And in the long run, they are right, but what they don’t tell you is that they will try to do this to you EVERY day and that WILL hurt you.

In fact, let’s talk about that for a minute.

Those of you who have lost weight, were you surprised at the amount of people, friends even, who didn’t support you?  They got mad at you, turned their backs on you, became snotty or what have you while they saw your success?  Sure, they liked you when you were fat, but when you actually did what you said you were going to do and started taking the weight off, suddenly they didn’t want to hear about your struggles any more?

There are a few reasons for that.

  1. It makes them realize that THEY are all talk because they see what it takes to get it done and they don’t want to admit their laziness.
    It’s true.  If you don’t do the work to lose weight (and come on, you KNOW what it takes, deep down, right?) then you are not putting forth the effort, you aren’t doing the work, it’s YOUR FAULT.  Nobody makes you fat but you, and no one takes that weight off but you.  It’s easier to complain than to do the work and that’s why your friends don’t like you all the sudden, because it’s so much easier to have a friend to complain with and share in the blame game, than it is to actually suck it up and quit with the extra nibbles.  I know, because I have been there.  I like the extra bites.  But I know that when it comes down to it, those extras add up, and suddenly, I’m whining about not losing and my friend is.
  2. Your success makes them feel like you are bringing their weaknesses into the light.  Aka: you call them out without meaning to.This goes along the same lines as the first point, but isn’t it true?  Why do we envy people?  They have what we don’t.  Some times we can change that.  If they have more money, well, get off your butt and go MAKE more money.  The government won’t give it to you, you have to, as Dave Ramsey says “get up, leave the cave, go kill something and drag it home”.  YOU are not entitled to anything.  This includes money, cars, fame, or that hot body that you want.  You want it?  Go after it and do what it really takes.  Stop kidding yourself.  You KNOW what you need to do but most people would rather complain about why things aren’t happening than looking inside saying “you know, this is going to be a butt-load of work, but I want it, so I’m going to do what it takes”.  This includes fat loss.  It takes HARD work to get that body.  It was hard to pass up the extra bites out of the candy dish at work.  It was hard to get up and go do your walk every day like you know you needed to.  It was hard to drag yourself out of bed early to go to boot camp class. or to workout with a trainer, or to pass up that extra whatever it is and eat more protein. Fat loss sucks because it’s HARD.  That’s why so few people succeed.  We’re not good at doing hard.  We want it and we want it now because I exist I have the right to have it.
    NO, you don’t.
    You have the right to go out and do it and get it, but you don’t have the right to just become it.  That’s why you’re still fat.  Ouch.  The truth hurts.  And that’s why your friends don’t like you.  You going out and DOING it brings light to the fact that being fat IS your fault, you CAN do it and all they are doing is complaining.  No one likes to be called out.

Oh wow, it’s easy to get on a soap box isn’t it? :)

What I said might hurt and you might be saying “but I have a medical condition! It’s genetic!  My parent’s fed me too much junk as a kid which meant I was a fat kid and I can’t be anything but fat!”

Ok, fine.  It’s still your fault.

No, it’s not your fault that you have a condition, you have “fat genes” or your parents didn’t know the difference between a box of Swiss Cake Rolls and an apple.  What IS your fault is what you are going to do about it.

If you are sitting here saying those things, then the answer is, you’re going to complain and blame….and stay right where you are.

I can say that, because I have fit in that category for too long.

Brief Explanation of Why I Can Say This Stuff

I wasn’t a fat kid, my parents aren’t fat and I didn’t struggle with body image growing up.

I was doomed.

You see, my mom, her mom and her grandmother ( my great-grandmother) AND my dad’s mom (my grandma) all have hypothyroidism.  To varying degrees, and I may be the worst out of the lot, only because I’ve had more tests done than they have.  You see, I competed in a figure competition and while I wouldn’t change that experience for the world (I did some seriously hard work and I reaped the rewards of watching my body change almost daily before my eyes), I did go about it blindly and stupidly and probably had a hand in wreaking my own health without knowing it.  I hired a well-known coach (he produces Olympians so I thought “get the best!”.) who did not provide hardly any support, would not sub out anything (I hate asparagus and cream of wheat but no, I had to eat them several times a day….really??) and gave me cookie cutter programs of 6 days a week training and 2x’s a day cardio. Sadly, the norm in the competition world.  If you see that, it’s the mark of a man or woman who doesn’t know the science behind it all, but sees it work on a few (maybe themselves) and gives it to many.  This is otherwise known as “bro-science”.

In any case, the addition of “fat burners” several times a day probably did nothing for my pre-disposed thyroid.

What happend?  Well,after the post-competition rebound weight gain of 20 lbs, I developed a habit of binge eating that destroyed my relationship with food that lasted for 2 years and culminated this past year in the resulting weight gain of my highest weight: 156.  I gained 20 lbs. in only a few months.  On a 5’3″ person, not so good.  My competition weight? 114 lbs.  A couple years ago I kept trying to lose weight, couldn’t and finally got to the point where the brain fog was so bad and lack of energy so pronounced as that I couldn’t get out of bed (literally) that I saw a doc who ordered tests, finding out 1) my thyroid had shrunk almost in half on one side 2) It hardly worked at all 3) what it did produce did not convert to the active form.

What does that mean?  Means I am on Armour Thyroid meds (combo T4 and T3) for the rest of my life and the dosages will have to be constantly tweaked according to my lifestyle.

Also means I have a NASTY time losing weight.

Point in case.  I was 156 in March. My fighting weight is a happy 120. If you’ve seen my wedding pictures, that’s where I was.  I decided that after much therapy I had broken the addiction to food and binging and was ready to try weight loss.

I lost 3 lbs in 5 months.

Says to me something’s wrong right?  First trip to the doc showed T3 levels were still about the levels of an 80 year old man.  So I upped the meds.  Came back in July and everything showed great!  Doc gave me the standard I have no idea what’s wrong with you answer “you’ll just have to work at it a little harder”.

He must not have heard me because at the time I was

  • biking up to 100 miles/week
  • leading 2 beach boot camp classes (participating as much as leading)
  • Lifting 3 x’s a week
  • Training several times a week
  • Alternating trying to run with swimming (due to a hip injury that won’t heal)
  • Restricting calories

Yeah, the mantra “move more, eat less” didn’t seem to be working.  Until my massage therapist opened my eyes.  She said
“Are you being consistant”?

The truthful answer was NO, I wasn’t.  I was tracking “everything” but leaving an awful lot out of the log, so I hit my 1500 calories but in reality was eating more than that.  No idea, because the extra bites of cereal, grapes, peanut butter, candy, you name it, didn’t go into the log.

I said ok, enough, I am the problem.  Let’s fix this.

So I have been HONEST with myself, logging everything.  Hitting my protein more often than not and my calories almost daily.  Yes, I’ve had slipups and those days have cost me progress, but I’m aware and honest and guess what?  I hit a new low today of 144.6!  Not that much but mind you, this is a learning process and every little ounce of fat loss is a victory for me.  I am staying consistant. Consistant with my tracking methods, honest, consistant with EVERYTHING.

I bemoaned my state for so long saying it had to be something else, my meds weren’t right, blah blah blah.  But really, I wasn’t being honest with myself.

So if you are fat, more than likely, you are the problem.  BE HONEST.  What are you not counting, not logging, lying to yourself about?  Just write it down and don’t feel like you have to make yourself have a large deficit, make it a small one, stick to it, and on days you feel like you can go lower, go lower.

Did I mention most of my weight loss has come in the last few weeks when I have been LESS active?   Yeah, I’ve gone to 2x’s a week lifting, not participating in boot camps and the cycling has come down.  Mostly this is due to the hip injury I’m getting looked at, but the good news is, my body responds positively to less.  That’s also a bummer :)

I can also say that the journey will be more difficult for some than others.  Maybe you have medical conditions, maybe you don’t.  Maybe you have an unsupportive family/spouse, maybe you are surrounded by people rooting for you.  Whatever it is, just go for it!  It’s your life, and life is too short to live in excuses.

There is, obviously by my case, more than one way to lose fat/weight.  Sometimes people can lose by just moving more (not in my case), some by just eating less, some by just being consistant.  The equation is always the same: Calories in vs calories out, you have to burn more than you consume.  Period.  How people’s bodies respond to different styles of training, different foods etc. are all different so the specifics of that formula will change as well.

  • Some respond better to heavy exercise
  • Some respond better to very light exercise
  • Some do better on larger deficits
  • Some do better on smaller deficits
  • Almost everyone responds well to cycling programs (be it calories, carbs, both…)

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach as that figure coach made me believe.  Your body is different, so go find out what makes you different, how you respond.  But believe that weight loss is possible, because it IS!  Give it time, but go do it.  Don’t live another day under your own excuses.  And if you need help, well, that’s why I’m a trainer. :)   I can train you, I can point you to fat loss experts (Leigh Peele is one – I highly recommend her Fat Loss TroubleShoot if this article rings a bell with you.  Lyle McDonald is another, and you can see the items of his that I endorse on the boot camp site or on my site.  He is the expert at this and can teach you so much, I HIGHLY recommend his books, especially the Guide to Flexible Dieting), and I am here for you.

Contact me and we’ll get started!

So, QUIT WITH THE EXCUSES!  If you want it, go get it!

And read the article above.  Well, shucks, I’ll post it here. :)


3 Lean Body Secrets No One Has Told You | Articles.

I’ve said this before…weight loss is easy. It is keeping the weight off that is difficult. The difficulty is due to the fact that maintaining a lean body over the long haul has little to do with grams of protein, fish oil, or block peroidization of you’re exercise program. Lifetime leanness is achieved not through nutrients per se it is achieved through persistence, fostering a lean culture, and feeling good (maybe superior?)about your achievements. Here’s what I mean.


I’ll talk about this a little later in the post, but one thing you need to realize is that in order to consistently attain a lean body you will be fighting an uphill battle, especially with your diet. When you travel, no one is waiting for you at the gate with a grilled salmon salad for you to take on the plane with you. No, there is a 16 year old working at Qdoba that wants to sell you a 3 lbs burritos which contains 1/2 cup of sour cream. When you go out to eat at the local wing joint with your buddies, the waiter isn’t asking you if you’d like to order off the menu something healthier, no he just wants to know if you want blue cheese or ranch. This is why you need to be persistent. You need to be persistent about what you need to stick to your plan. Last week I was out to eat with some friends and my buddy Joe (how maintains 6% bodyfat) displayed the ultimate level of dietary persistence. We’re at Buffalo Wild Wings. Joe looks at the menu, sighs, the waiter comes over and asks what he wants -

Waiter – “Breaded or boneless wings? 12, 25, or 50?”

Joe – “I’m going to order off the menus.” Joe puts the menu down and doesn’t look at it. “Can you make me a big green salad, lots of vegetables, and then I’ll have two blackened chicken breasts on the side.”

Waiter – Blank stare. “Oookay. What kind of dressing would you like?”

Joe – “Do you have olive oil and vinegar? I’ll have that on the side.”

Waiter -”I don’t think we have olive oil….yeah we don’t have that.”

Joe – “Can you go check with the kitchen for me?”

Waiter – Visibly annoyed. “I’ll be right back.”

That is persistence. Joe knew what he needed for dinner and he asked for it. The waiter didn’t have all the answers so Joe asked him to go find the person that did. There were at least 3 opportunities where Joe could have given in, but he didn’t. He was persistent and he got what he wanted. It is going to be a rare occasions that you can order directly from the menu. It is going to be a rare occasion that you will wake up 10 minutes before your alarm goes off energized to hit the gym. That is why you must be persistent.


I cringe a little using the word culture because it is has become such a buzz word in business nowadays but it is the best way to describe this key. You need to create and foster a culture of healthy habits so that you aren’t making healthy decisions because you are forcing them upon yourself but because that is what you do. Here are two examples to illustrate my point. My kids eat fruits and vegetables at every meal and when they snack on baby carrots and red pepper strips during the day they say things like “Ummm that is delicious.” They eat broccoli, they eat peas by the handful (literally, it is a struggle to get Peter to use a spoon). They eat this way because that is just how we eat. Eating vegetables was never an issue for them because those are the foods that we eat. Fruits and vegetables were never signaled out as foods that we don’t really want to eat but do because we have to. We just eat them, that is the culture at our house.

In that recent trip to a seminar with Joe we got to discussing food choices and eating out (how could you not after that encounter with the waiter). He said that at his gym, all the trainers eat really clean as that is the culture. If you came to the gym with unhealthy food ‘you’d get made fun of.’ Sometimes you need that. Sometimes you need the added peer pressure when your tired and your guard is down so that you order your burger without the bun and to substitute the fries for vegetables instead of eating it as is on the menu. The point about culture is that you want to work to immerse yourself in a culture where the healthy habits you hold important are the norm. This is key for maintaining a lean body for the long haul.


Okay, so this last one is a little controversial and I debated not including it. Andrew Carnegie once said that one of his keys to ultra achievement was carefully measured arrogance. This was mirrored by marketing and small business consultant Dan Kennedy when he applied Carnegie’s view to his own life regarding time and project management

I will tell you where my sense of superiority comes from: my control of my life, compared to everyone else’s lack of control.

A sense of lack of control is the worst thing. This is a common characteristic among chronically overweight people that I have worked with. So when you get control and are working your plan, feel good about it. Geez, near 70% of the U.S. population is overweight or obese. You’re succeeding against all odds! Against 99.8% of all food marketing. Against every gadget that makes life ‘easier’ so you can move and do less. Against all the thoughts flying in and out of your mind each day telling you to skip the gym or have the pancakes! Fostering a feeling of superiority doesn’t have to have negative connotations, it doesn’t mean that you are putting others and their dietary foils down – it means that you recognizing that you’re doing something great, something that pretty much everyone wants to do but can’t consistently.

Like I said at the beginning, it isn’t about nutrients and supplements. It is the mental stuff. It is knowing what you want and getting it whether it is the right food at a lousy restaurant or a quick workout at your in-laws house. It is about creating an culture where healthy behaviors are normal and then surround yourself with people who also feel that way. And it is about giving yourself credit for raging against the machine, doing what most people won’t, and then using that good feeling to fuel your persistence even more.

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Sleeping Booty: Anterior Pelvic Tilt and Sleeping Butt Syndrome Part 2

What Can Be Done?

This is, by no means, the definitive work and end-all be-all answer to this question.  I am not a doctor, a therapist or other medical practitioner and EACH situation is different.  Therefore, understand that these are suggestions, to be used in conjunction with possible other training modalities and may be contraindicated by your specific issue, so check with your doctor first if you have any concerns.

The answer depends on what your specific muscle imbalances are. For you, what is tight, what is weak and what has caused your body to have these imbalances?  If you try to correct the imbalances without changing the lifestyle situation that caused them, guess what, you are fighting an uphill battle, just like walking the wrong way on an escalator.  If your situation is caused by trauma, this is different, but if you are the victim of a lifestyle issue (which is extremely common) understand that you can do all the stretches in the world and if you don’t change your posture on a daily basis (being aware of your body in daily life is the first step) then you will probably see very little improvement.

So, back to the problem at hand: what can I do for my J-Lo booty?

The first question is why are your glutes not firing properly?  Do you sit all day?  Do you have an anterior pelvic tilt?  The most likely culprits are:

  • tight hip flexors
  • tight quads
  • poor core strength
  • stretched hamstrings
  • or other problems causing your lack of function.

There can be many other muscles contributing to the imbalances but these are the main ones I will address.

Tight Hip Flexors

If you have tight hip flexors, and most of the population does (with or without sleeping glutes) your first plan of attack is going to be static stretching, which we will follow up with dynamic stretching.  Actually, I would put foam rolling first as Self Myo-fascial release has been found to be most beneficial to decreasing the tension in chronically overactive muscles, however, it can be difficult to reach your hip flexors on a foam roller and with a tennis or lacrosse ball…well, honestly that’s just too much pain for me to handle and I’d rather a massage therapist work it out for me; they are the best option in any case.

Quick anatomy lesson; what are some of the hip flexors?

In human anatomy, the hip flexors are a group of skeletal muscles that act to flex the femur (thigh bone) onto the lumbo-pelvic complex, i.e., pull the knee upward.

The hip flexors are (in descending order of importance to the action of flexing the hip joint):[1]


Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

  • Kneel with one foot on the ground and the other leg having the knee resting (“take a knee”).
  • Tilt your pelvis to a posterior tilt and squeeze your buttocks on the “down” leg.  This motion alone should light up your hip flexors, especially if they are tight.  In fact, you might not need any more than that.
  • To progress this stretch, maintain the glute activation by squeezing and keeping the pelvis tilted and bend your front knee forward just an inch or two.  That should be enough of a stretch, but if you wish to intensify it, you can raise your arm on the side bein stretched, up and over and then back and twist just a bit to try to get to the psoas.
  • If you are not on a padded surface, you might wish to put a mat or something under your kneeling leg.

Quadriceps Stretch

This is one that I like to do with the top of my rear foot laying on a bench with the bottom knee on the floor.  If you are quite flexible, you might find that this stretch works better for you.  Flexible is a bit of an oxymoron in this case since we are talking about stretching tight muscles, but if you are hypermobile in your joints to a degree (like myself) or have an otherwise good range of motion, you might not fee this stretch as shown above and may need to modify it to this stretch.

External Hip Rotators and Piriformis

These can be some nasty little muscles, and I HIGHLY recommend starting out your foam rolling session on the piriformis.  I have not progressed to the tennis ball yet, as  mine is usually tight.  If you sit on a foam roller, cross one knee over the other, place your hands behind you on the ground and lean to the side that has the foot up and begin to roll, you might find what feels like a “bone” in your butt.  As you can see from the pictures above, there is no bone there, but that tiny muscle called the piriformis which can be a nasty little guy.  In fact, it even has its own syndrome “piroformis syndrome”, which can be a common cause of sciatica as when the piriformis muscle becomes tight it can put pressure on the sciatic nerve.  Other symptoms may be aching in the leg or pain in the low back.

Make sure to give it lots of attention by this foam rolling move and stretch below. 

To foam roll your piriformis, here is a video:

Lie on your back with one leg crossed over the other.  Put your hands behind the back of the knee facing away from you and pull it towards you, thus causing both knees to come towards you.  You will feel a deep stretch on the outside of your hip.  Hold anywhere from a minimum of 30 seconds to 3 minutes.  Remember to breathe.


Side Lying (Band-Resisted) Clams

This one might make you feel really awkward, so maybe don’t do it in the gym, but do it at home….or if you really don’t care what other people think, go ahead and do it in the gym, all the while staring at the guy with no butt, scoffing at him while he does his 1/4 squats in the smith machine with 8 plates and you know you are actually doing something functional and useful…..uh, sorry, you probably want to leave out the staring and scoffing bit. :)

  • To do this, lie on your side with knees bent and feet stacked one on top of the other.
  • Draw your navel in, contract your glutes and lift your top knee towards the ceiling.
  • Make sure you keep your hips level, they should not move back and forth and your Range of Motion (ROM) should be fairly small with this.  If you find you can go fairly wide with no problem and no feeling of tightness in your glutes, shift your hips forward and try again.
  • You can wrap a mini-band around your knees to progress this.

Lateral Mini-Band, X-band or Tube Walks

These are one of my favorites, and it incorporates some movement into your streching, otherwise known as Dynamic or Active Isolated Stretching.  Depending on the type of band you have, these will differ somewhat, but the end result is much the same.

  • With a mini-band around your ankles, squat low, to parallel if you can, and take a wide step laterally (to the left or right).  Focus on picking the feet up and moving the knees apart.
  • With a superband put the tube underneath the arches of your feet, cross the band in an “X” across your body and hold the top of the band.  If you have a resistance band with handles, put the band underneath the arches of your feet and hold the bands at your side.  The higher you raise the band the more resistance you get.
  • Keeping the legs relatively straight and staying upright, move your leg out to the side (left or right) and take a large step laterally.  Make this movement slow and when you bring the other leg in, focus on that leg coming in slow, too.  You want to resist the tension in the band – do not allow it to “snap” your legs together.  That defeats the purpose. Walk the length of the room and back several times, not allowing the feet to fully come back together and keeping your low squat position.
  • This video from Perform Better shows a lot of exercises for the mini-bands.  The Lateral walks are at the 2.30 mark. 
  • Take about 10 steps in either direction and if you are doing this correctly you will feel a burn in your outer glutes (the glute medius)


Bridges have to be my go-to all time favorite exercise.  They are simple and effective, albeit they do look rather awkward.  If you can get over the social awkwardness of these, your body will thank you.

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor
  • lift your hips into the air, forming a straight line between knees to shoulders
  • squeeze your butt HARD and hold for 2 seconds before descending slowly.  Repeat for up to 20-30 reps.

Now all these exercises have focused on warm-up and activation exercises for the glutes, what about progressing to training them as part of your workouts?  Bret Contreras, otherwise known as “The Glute Guy” is the definitive source on the subject, seeming to have done more research than any body so far on the topic.


Weak Core

I also mentioned that whether you have an anterior pelvic tilt or you have sleeping glutes, you may also have weak core musculature.  The pelvis is considered part of the core, when it is out of alignment, the deep stabilizing muscles may become stretched, inhibited or weak.

There are a huge amount of muscles attaching to the pelvis, from the back muscles to include the quadratus lumborum, multifidus and erectors spinae and lats to the transverse abdominis, pelvic floor muscles and obliques.  The job of these muscles varies from holding you upright, keeping in your internal organs, giving you stability to keep you from falling over, helping you bend  side to side, to the front, and even to the back, among other things.  When your pelvis is tilted, these muscles can become compromised, shortened, lengthened, tight, weak, etc.

Balance is key to core stability and you may find that as you start upon training your balance capabilities, that they are not as good as you once thought.  Having good balance is imperative for not only preventing you from falling and hurting yourself, but in maintaining core strength and optimal length-tension relationships.  Here are three exercises I would perform on a regular basis:

Single-Leg Balance

As you progress, begin to stand on increasingly unstable objects: a pillow, a dyna-disk, a bosu ball, upturned bosu ball, half foam roll, etc.


  • Stand with your hands on your hips, feet shoulder width apart.
  • Keeping knees bent, contract your glutes and bring one foot beside the ankle of the other foot.
  • Do NOT let your leg go behind you – this makes it too easy to balance.  Keep your leg beside the other leg, a bit in front if you wish.
  • Hold for up to 20 seconds to 3 minutes.  You will feel your underactive muscles begin to fire and start to burn as they work to hold you stable.

Bird Dogs



How to:

  1. Lie face down on mat resting on the forearms, elbows directly underneath your shoulders.
  2. Push off the floor, raising up onto toes and resting on the elbows.
  3. Keep your back flat, in a straight line from head to heels.
  4. Tilt your pelvis and contract your abdominals to prevent your rear end from sticking up in the air or sagging in the middle. Squeeze your butt hard!
  5. Hold for 20 to 60 seconds, lower and repeat for 3-5 reps.

What I see when I see people doing this wrong?  They sag in the middle.  They don’t squeeze their butts or abs.  They sink in between their shoulder blades.  Do this with a partner and have them look at you.  If you don’t look exactly like this, you’re doing it wrong.  In fact, most people claim they can do it for 3 minutes no problem.  More than likely if you can, you’re doing it wrong.  Squeeze your butt while you do this and tell me THEN if you can do it for 3 minutes.

Putting it all together

So this would be just a sample of how to incorporate all these different exercises together into a program.

A. Foam Roll: Piriformis, IT band, quads, calves, lats, and do thoracic extensions

B. Static Stretching: – hold for 20-30 seconds each.
B1. Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
B2. Quad stretch
B3. Piriformis Stretch

C. Dynamic Stretching (Activation work) with Balance and Core
C1. Bridges 2-3×12-20
C2. X-band walks 2-3 sets length of room
C3. Bird Dogs 2-3×12-20
C4. Planks 2-3×30-60 seconds
C5. Single-Leg Balance 2-3x 30 seconds to 2 minutes each (depending on ability)

So, you would foam roll first, go through all of B, follow that up with C, going through the entire circuit of C once before repeating for sets.  If you train with me, this is the stuff you do BEFORE you even get to the resistance training portion of the program.  This, in and of itself can be done as its own program, especially if you suffer from sleeping booty, or, it can be the warm-up to any lifting program.  In fact, this is part of a warm-up I use almost every workout.  If you do this, your body will be well on its way to restoring proper length-tension relationships, force-couple relationships and just moving a heck of a lot better.

Which means, after all that, you probably don’t want to spend another 30 minutes doing 4 kinds of bicep curls.  Train your big movements with purpose and get out.  :)

For further reading and where I got some of my material

Changes are A-Comin’!

I’m happy to announce that there are some great changes coming to Music Strong and Panama City Beach Boot Camp in the VERY near future.  We are completely re-designing our training packages at Music Strong and I’m happy to share that for my online clients you are getting a brand-new feature.  When you sign up with me,  after your initial Skype session where I give you a free assessment, you will be able to log into HFPN, the online platform that will allow you to see your workouts, in detail (and on a calendar so you know exactly what you are doing each day), complete with videos, coaching cues and more.  It even allows you to track your steps, log your food, customize your goals and see your progress on a chart!

This brand new feature is already available! – so if you’d like to sign up, you can purchase your plan on the Shop page under “Online Personal Training”.  Cost is $100/mo and includes all of the above: HFPN log-in with workouts, initial Skype session, free assessment, constant email contact and encouragement and when you sign up, you’ll be billed on a continual monthly basis, allowing you to progress quickly and evenly through your workouts, seeing strength gains, balance improvements and body weight falling off (or coming on depending on your goals) with the convenience to cancel anytime.  Suggested minimum time for most improvement is three months.

As for the Panama City Beach Boot Camp – we are completely redesigning the program.  Classes have been put on hold while these changes are taking place, but keep a look out here, and on the camp website: for updates on when classes will resume with all the great new changes. You can look forward to

  • updated classes with more flexibility
  • more times
  • new  locations
  • discounted pricing.

You’ll know when all the different classes will be each month, and we will be hosting regular “Get Fit Challenges” along with

  • beginners specific classes
  • advanced classes
  • women’s only class
  • possibly even a new mom’s class.

If you have suggestions you would like to see added to the classes, please feel free to contact me at or through this website.  Thank you to those who have already given me great ideas, you will see them in action soon!

On an additional note, please keep a lookout for a very special Deal of the Day through the News Herald for both the Panama City Beach Boot Camp classes and my personal training.

We will keep you updated as things change!  Thank you for your patience, your encouragement and I want you to know that I am always here for you.  I want to see you achieve your dreams and leave the healthiest, pain-free life you can.

Is Strength and Muscle Loss Reversible in Older Adults?

This blog post from a guest blog on Michael Boyle’s blog and came floating into my inbox the other day and I thought it good information to pass along.  I made a previous post about Strength Training Preventing Muscle Atrophy in Old Age where the studies show that strength training does just that: prevent muscle atrophy in older adults.  Michael’s guest blogger is Michael Stare a physical therapist from Spectrum Fitness Consulting in Beverly, MA.   Below is the post, and I highly recommend going to Michael Stare’s blog post to see the videos of the elderly in all their weight training glory. :)


The following is a guest blog from physical therapist Michael Stare of Spectrum Fitness Consulting in Beverly, Ma. I don’t run a lot of guest blogs but, wanted to share this.

“In conversations with hundreds of people on the topic of aging, it seems that the consensus amongst those not in the fitness industry is that people inherently become weak as they age. Some recent research calls into question whether this is true.

It is true that people will tend to lose approximately 5-10% of their muscle mass every decade after the age of 40, and that rate significantly increases after 65 years old.

Countless studies have proven that much of this muscle and strength loss can be prevented with resistance training. This is true of all types of older adults, whether they are master athletes or previously sedentary.

So How Much Strength Can Older Adults Regain?

The issue has been solved about preventing muscle loss. But until recently, no one has looked at how much can be regained relative to younger adults. Essentially, can older adults who undergo supervised training regain strength and muscle mass that compares to younger men? Let’s look at some recent research on the topic:

Candow, et al JSCR, 25 (2) 2011

The researchers trained a group of older men 60-71yrs old with a supervised heavy resistance training program 3 times a week for 22 weeks. At the end of the study they measured muscle size and strength. Not surprisingly, they all gained muscle and strength. What was surprising was how much.

They compared the average strength levels and muscle size achieved by the older adults to the average strength and muscle size of a group of younger men 18-31 years old who were all physically active but not involved in resistance training. The results showed that there was not a significant difference in the muscle size or strength in the older men after supervised training compared to the younger men!

This means that older men can expect to attain the same amount of strength and muscle with a supervised training program as younger, physically active men!

Is it really that important to be stronger?

Research has shown a very strong correlation between strength and death from all causes: essentially, stronger older men have a lower risk of dying from all causes (Ruiz, et al.  BMJ July 2008;337:a439).

Strength is a the most important factor in fall prevention, and is also related to the performance of activities of daily living, balance, and walking  ( American Geriatrics Society; British Geriatrics Society and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Panel on Falls Prevention. Journal of the American geriatrics society, Vol. 49, 2001, pp. 664-72. Speechley, M. Canadian journal on aging, 2005.)

So the evidence is clear: being strong is important, more so for older adults.

Why Strength Training Is MORE important for Older Adults

In addition to the above evidence, increasing strength is significantly more important for older adults (anyone older than 60 and yes, that includes you Mom, Dad, Mary if you are reading ;) . Simply put, strength is like money. The less you have, the more important it is. If a fit 35 year old  loses 50% of their strength, while they will struggle with high level strength, they can still perform all of their daily functions with little issue. If a 75 year old loses 20% of their strength, that might be the difference between living independently and needing assisted living.

Can you do it?

Getting stronger is certainly something you can do.  No matter your injuries, pain, age, weight, diseases, or time constraints – you can respond very well to strength training. The research is clear on this, and I’ve seen it with my own eyes. There are some inspiring videos of Spectrum clients that you should check out on the blog here ”

Ralph in his early 80′s

Jolyne in her early 70′s


Peter in his 80s:


Sleeping Booty: Anterior Pelvic Tilt and Sleeping Butt Syndrome Part I

I have known for quite awhile now that my mom blessed me with a few things relating to my anatomy besides a nice smile and a non-functioning thyroid she also passed on to me her anterior pelvic tilt.  I have a strong suspicion that this is a major contributing factor to the mysterious chronic and migrating hip pain that I have been suffering from over the past year.  I am in no way self-diagnosing here, but after having been to physical therapists, massage therapists, chiropractors and an orthopedic surgeon (who thought I had weak hip flexors????  WTF??) I’m definitely doing a lot of self-educating in my quest for answers.

What have I found?
The problem of tight hip flexors and weak glutes (“sleeping butt syndrome”) is a lot more prevalent than I thought.  It never fails – when I go to give a presentation I have all my workshop participants lie on the ground and do a glute bridge to test who has “sleeping glutes”.  There’s usually quite a bit of laughter and then I ask “who feels this in their hamstrings?”  and more hands go up then when I ask “who feels this in their butt?”.  It’s hugely common.

You might notice an increase in the amount of hip and glute posts from me in the near future; this is a major contributing factor to that.  Be you a desk jocky, musician, weekend warrior or seasoned gym goer, the likely-hood of you suffering from some degree of this is high, so I feel it my duty to report on it!  I’m happy to see a lot more articles and attention being given to the subject and I’ll do my best to lead you to them.  In the meantime, I’ll also share what I know.

What does this cause?

Lots of things, most notably:

  1. an excessive low back arch
  2. tight hip flexors
  3. weak glutes
  4. stretched hamstrings
  5. possible low back pain
  6. a J-Lo type bubble butt :) (no, that’s not the technical term, but you had to have a visual because I’m not posting a pic of MY butt!)
  7. weakened core mucsulature, especially abdominals
  8. Knee pain

How do you know?

First off, how do you KNOW you have an anterior pelvic tilt? Your first clue: exam the pictures below and then compare yourself to them:

Neutral                              Posterior Tilt               Anterior Tilt

If you look in the mirror, wearing a belt, and you see that your front belt line dips below the back belt line, that may be an indication.  As stated in the article where I got the above image:

The natural position your hips determines leverages of the muscles that control the hip. This is trainable. The hip flexors pull down on your pelvis while the lower back pulls up. The Abs pull up while the glutes pull down.

This is an excellent and comprehensive post on the problem and goes into great detail about testing and exercises, some of which I will cover in this series.

Secondly, is it possible to have sleeping glutes and NOT have an anterior pelvic tilt?

In a word, yes, it is.  There are a series of tests you can do to find out if your glutes are firing properly or you have muscle compensations.  But first, a word about what the glutes do; if not stated previously, the glutes are involved in hip extension, abduction and external rotation.  In layman’s terms, that means they bring the leg straight back, out to the outside of the body and around.  If they do not fire correctly, other muscles are forced to take up this job.

Tests to see if you have sleeping glutes

Thomas Test

words by Bill Hartman


Lie face-up on a bench and bring both knees to your chest. Grab your right knee and hold it at your chest. Let your left leg straighten, then lower it by relaxing your hip. Test both legs, and if either leg can’t lower to the bench.

Your problem is…

…tight hip flexors, which can result in hamstring strains and back pain.

Two More Tests: Prone Leg Lift and the Bridge (double-leg)

The Prone Leg Lift: Lie on your stomach with legs straight behind you.  Lift one leg at at time up and squeeze, testing to see if 1) you can keep your leg straight or have to bend at the knee and 2) if your hamstrings or glutes burn.  Here’s a video to demonstrate:    NtKKfG4xsbg

The double-leg bridge is not only a test to find out if your glutes are firing properly, but if you find they aren’t, it is also one of the exercises to help fix it. 

Lie on your back with feet very close to your butt, almost directly underneath your knees.  Put your arms on the ground to the side with palms facing up (to get a little extra pec stretch :) ). Tilt your pelvis toward you (so lower back flattens a bit) and drive your heels into the ground and lift your hips until your body is forming a straight line.  Squeeze your glutes for all they are worth, keep tension in them as you return to the ground ( do NOT let them “loose”) and repeat.  If you feel a burning in your hamstrings, this is a sure-fire indication that you have a muscle imbalance and your glutes are not firing properly.  You may call yourself “Sleeping Booty”.

Two More Tests From Nick Tuminello

Fundamental Movement Patterns
Before we get to the tests themselves, it’s important for you to understand that everyone should be able to do them without a struggle, as they’re based on fundamental, bio-motor (human movement) abilities.  This means that if you’re unable to successfully perform one or both of the tests, you essentially lack a basic ability that you need for healthy and efficient movement. As I mentioned earlier, it’s very common to find these tests difficult to perform, so it’s nothing to worry about; you just need to be retrained.
Glute Activation Test 1: Straight Leg Hip Extension
This test enables us to test the level of glute activation one can achieve in the straight leg position. This same straight leg hip extension occurs on both sides in the gym during exercises like two legged and single legged Romanian deadlifts.
So you’ve got the foundation of this test and how it relates to fitness training, now let’s talk about how it’s done.

Starting Position

  1. Begin on your elbows, with one leg fully flexed at the hip and the knee. This leg should be tucked up as far as possible into your body with your thigh in contact with your ribs.\
  2. The other leg should be extended straight back behind you and resting on the floor (see photos). The extended leg is the one that’s going to be tested.

Performing the Test

To perform this test, lift your extended leg off the ground as high as possible.Be sure to keep that leg fairly straight and avoid bending it. A slight bend (<15 degrees) is okay, however. Additionally, do not allow your ribs to loose contact with your thigh on the opposite side.

If you can lift your extended thigh and knee at least one to two inches off the floor without struggling, you pass.
If you cannot lift your rear leg without shifting your body or deviating from the starting position, or you find yourself struggling to do so, you have some work ahead of you.

Glute Activation Test 2: Bent Leg Hip Extension

First off, don’t even think of skipping this test just because you either passed or failed the first test. This test was adapted from my good friend and sports physical therapist Gray Cook, and it tests the glutes in a different manner; it’s important that you try both.

The bent leg test mimics how the glutes are recruited in sports during a different aspect of locomotive activties (running, skipping, etc.).  Bent leg hip extension is also required to effectively perform gym exercsies like Bulgarian split squats and lunges.

Starting Position

  1. You’re going to need a tennis ball for this one. (Tennis balls are the latest in cutting edge fitness equipment.)
  2. To begin the test, lie on your back with both knees bent and feet on the floor, resembling a traditional sit-up position.
  3. Place a tennis ball below your bottom rib, then bring your knee up and use your hip flexors to squeeze the tennis ball between your thigh and bottom rib.

Performing the Test
Without deviating from your starting postion or losing the tennis ball, lift your hips as high as possible off of the floor.
In order to pass this test, you must be able to perform ten consectutive repetitions at a controlled tempo, without losing the pressure on the tennis ball or having it roll away altogether.
You also must be able to bridge high enough that your hip, knee, and underarm form a straight line.
If you’re successful at maintaining the tennis ball but fail to reach this hip height, you need some additional help from the specialized exercise progressions laid out below.

There Are Two Sides to Every Story
This should go without saying, but I’m going to say it just in case you need to hear it: Don’t forget to test both sides of your body. Just because one side’s working well doesn’t mean that the opposite will, too.

With that said, if neither one of your glutes is working well, just give each side some extra attention with the corrective training exercises provided here. However, if one side’s working great and the other isn’t, you’ll have to make some programming adjustments.

In that, performing bi-lateral exercises like squats and deadlifts will create unnecessary and possibly dangerous torque forces within your body as one side pulls harder than the other.

Imagine what would happen if you bent over and someone came along and forcefully twisted you to one side. If you have an imbalance, a similar action is happening every time that you deadlift, or squat.

If this describes you, then in addition to performing your corrective training as laid out below, I suggest you start learning to love unilateral exercises like single leg squats and single leg Romanian deadlifts — these will be much safer and more effective with imbalance conditions.

For Those Who Passed With Flying Colors

If you’re one of those rare finds who’s able to successfully pass both tests equally on both sides, congrats; you aren’t a charter member of the weak glutes club.

So how did you test?

Whether you have an anterior pelvic tilt and/or tight hip flexors or you tested just fine for both, in part 2, I will address some methods to help you alleviate your tilt and activation exercises to help you wake up those sleepy glutes!  In the meantime, leave a comment below, tell me if this applies to you: do you have the tilt?  Are you hip flexors screaming at you every time you get out of the car? Is your lower back killing you?  Have you done anything to help?  I’d love to hear your feedback.

Stay tuned for Sleeping Booty Part 2.


Travel Workouts with No Lower Body Work

I am here in the Smoky Mountains, enjoying a long overdue vacation at my parent’s cabin with my husband and his siblings. The scenery is gorgeous, and as you can see from the picture of the driveway if I want to get out of breath by walking, all I have to do is go up and down the driveway a few times…shoot, just once it’s so steep at the bottom!

My current physical is somewhat frustrating and limiting, and altogether new to me, though not new to lots of people.  I have been suffering from a mysterious hip pain for the last year and have been to several physical therapists, massage therapists, chiropractors, and even an orthopedic surgeon to find what was going  on.

What my latest physical therapist has found is that I have a pelvic assymetry; meaning that my pelvis was tilted in three different directions: the left side was higher than the right, one side was farther in front than the other and the entire pelvis had an anterior tilt.  This condition is actually really common among women, according to this therapist, but my situation is compounded by the fact that I am hypermobile in most of my joints (not double jointed, but hypermobile, meaning too flexible) and my lifestyle is an extremely physically active one.  He believes these things are causing the problem.

Once the therapist put the pelvis back “in” to proper alignment, I have been in therapy to train my muscles to hold me “in”.  I’ve also not been allowed to 1) cross my legs 2) spread my legs 3) squat 4) do any kind of one-legged training or balance work 5) do plyometrics 6) go running.  So I’ve been pretty limited in what I can do; basically, I can ride a recumbent bike and go walking.  I can’t even demonstrate exercises to my clients!

So, now that I’m in the mountains, with no gym, how can I stay active?  Well, beyond the walking and hiking we plan to be doing, I have my resistance bands and that’s it.  Knowing that I’m on vacation and don’t have any desire to do a long workout, what kind of workout can I do that is A) effective and B) keeps me physical therapist (and my hips) happy?

The exercises:

Band resisted shoulder presses
Dead Bugs
Bridges (with and without kickouts)
Bicep Curls
Overhead Tricep Extensions
Rows or Lat Pull Downs

There are several ways to structure this workout depending on the amount of days you want to do it.  You can cycle through all of them once or twice with no stopping in between, or you can break them up into movement patterns: vertical push/pull, or horizontal push/pull.  You will notice that there are some lower body movements in here namely the bridges, planks and dead bugs and for those people not able to move their legs at all these motions can be left out.  However, since these are exercises I am doing in physical therapy and they serve the purpose to strengthen my deep core muscles to hold me “in” while giving me a good overall upper body workout.  The glutes are targeted in the bridges, and the glutes are considered part of the core.

So how I might set this up:

Warmup: Static Chest Press, Lat Stretch, Arm Circles, Wall Slides

  • Pushups (incline, flat, decline, narrow, etc) 12 reps or to failure
  • Band Resisted Rows (this works with JC Travel Bands) 12-15 reps at a 1 back, 2 hold 4 negative tempo
  • Dead Bugs 30 seconds hold superset with 15 glute bridges (with or without kickouts), repeat once
  • Prone Iso-Holds or Planks (Iso Holds done at 124 tempo are MUCH harder!) 12-20
  • Band Bicep curl to Band Resisted Shoulder Press to Overhead Tricep Extension (due to instability in my shoulders I would leave out the tricep extensions – they get hit in the pushups anyway) 12-15 each done slowly
  • Lat Pull downs 12-15  with a 124 tempo
  • End with one last round of pushups to failure.
  • Repeat if you want to.  All reps should have been done with no rest in between

As you can see, when you go slowly things are more difficult and you can get away with doing only one set.  In fact, I’d encourage it, because even if you’re in the middle of a different workout back home, if you’re limited to just upper body, going back to slow rep work will challenge you in a new way.

Then go take a hike, walk, swim or whatever, but get out and enjoy your vacation!
Want more information about the cabin where we are staying?  Check out

Become A NASM Certified Personal Trainer Like Me

The National Academy of Sports Medicine is the certification agency through which I became a personal trainer.  I plan on soon obtaining an advanced specialization of Corrective Exercise Specialist.  They offer three different specializations: CES (Corrective Exercise Specialist) and PES (Performance Exercise Specialist), and their newest specialization: the FNS or Fitness Nutrition Specialist.

NASM focuses on assessment, correcting muscle imbalances, which is imperative to optimal performance.  If you try to load bad movement patterns, you are asking for injury and using the NASM assessment system, you can find out what your specific compensations are, correct them and THEN properly load for hleping you meet your goals. I highly encourage you to check out their website, look around, ask questions.  I did before I committed.

From their website:

“Trainers get certified. REAL trainers get NASM Certified.”

Since 1987, the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) has been a global leader in providing evidence-based certifications and advanced credentials to health and fitness professionals. It is part of Ascend Learning, a leader in providing technology-based educational, assessment, testing and certification solutions for healthcare and other vocational fields.

In addition to its evidence-based NCCA-accredited Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) certification, NASM also offers a progressive career track with access to advanced specializations in Sports Performance (PES) and Injury Prevention (CES)Continuing Education courses, and accredited Bachelor and Master Degree programs.

The NASM educational continuum is designed to help today’s health and fitness professionals enhance their careers while empowering their clients to live healthier lives.

Our Mission
To provide health and fitness professionals with the best evidence-based education and systems

Our Values
Everything we do is focused on Excellence, Innovation and Results

Our Promise
Premier education for health and fitness professionals that delivers proven results

Everything You Know is Wrong!

Last weekend, October 7-8, 2011 I spent two days at the NASM Live Workshop and my head is about to explode from knowledge and all the things I’m dying to share with you!

First off, let’s say my ego took a real blow. Back up; first off, I didn’t realize I HAD that much of an ego until I got there. Between struggling to do a single leg balance, figuring out what to do for my excessive low back arch compensation and getting worn out by STATIC stretches, then throw in finding out I was doing it all wrong….let’s just say I’ve been humbled. :)

To back track a little bit (and so my clients don’t start to look for another trainer) let me clarify by saying no, I don’t really mean that I’ve been doing everything wrong. You see, I have been training for years; I was certified by ISSA 3 years ago and this past year in January I received my NASM-CPT certification, no easy feat. Besides the comps for my master’s in music, easily the hardest and most stressful thing I’ve done. There is simply a TON of knowledge that goes into understanding the material, and the certification is just the basics to get you started!

I studied for my exam by reading the book, doing the workbook, watching the videos and listening to the audio, doing the flashcards, practice tests and all that, but not a lot of hands-on. That’s unfortunately because I’m a tactile learner, which simply means that 1)I’m getting started in building my business and since I’m on my own, not part of a gym, that means the building process can take longer (read, not as many clients as quickly) and 2) there’s a lot of information that you can forget.

It was really a lot of fun, especially watching the “meatheads” in the room get schooled on how they’re old bodybuilding myths (i.e. anything gotten out of Muscle and Fitness, or Fiction” as they called it) were full of error, not scientifically based and overall….wrong. The emotional teddy bears got snatched out of a lot of people’s hands.

Teddy bear, born in Germany about 1954

Image via Wikipedia

What were the emotional teddy bears? Here are some:

  • There is no need to do full squats (ATG) unless prepping for a sport that requires it. Going that low causes the pelvis to tuck under which takes the lumbar spine out of neutral and therefore puts greater stress on the spine.
  • Plie or sumo squats are also not such a good idea. There is a high increase in abduction, which, coupled with the fact that most people’s knees cave inward already, is a recipe for nastiness.
  • Balance and stabilization work is HARD, not sissy easy
  • Tempo is SUPER important and if you think you can hold a plank for 3 minutes, you’re doing it wrong.
  • If you think you are doing crunches or squats right, you’re probably doing it wrong
  • If you haven’t assessed someone first, all you are doing is GUESSING.
  • You don’t need to work out 6 days in a row
  • You can get an EFFECTIVE workout in 9 minutes. Enough with the excuses.
  • Almost every ab exercise you’re doing probably is more of a hip flexor exercise
  • You train MOVEMENTS not MUSCLES :)
  • You cannot truly isolate a muscle

And I could go on and on!

What were some of the main things I learned that I will be sharing?


I thought I was a form-Nazi…until I went here. Then I realized how wrong my form was. My form is still better than 99% of the people in the gym, but was it optimal? Not until now. I will elaborate later.


You need to assess everyone with whom you work with, and this is not optional. If not, you have no idea what compensations they have, what they are capable of, what you need to stretch, what they DON’T need to stretch,etc. Beyond the initial assessments, there should be CONTINUING assessments after each phase is completed.

The OPT Model

I have actually tried to stay pretty close to this with my clients since learning this, but my eyes were REALLY opened up to how effective it is and how truly difficult the first phases can be. Hypertrophy, max strength and power? No, those are the easy phases. Stability and strength endurance? BEYOND necessary. How necessary? So necessary that I will be scrapping my current program and going straight to Phase I myself, treating myself just like a beginner.

Pushups – you’re doing it wrong

This is where my former confusion of form comes in. First off, when I joined the military I did MASSIVE amounts of pushups. They didn’t care how you did them either, as long as you “broke the plane” and went past parallel. One drill sergeant told us to do wide pushups, because since you had a shorter distance to go down, they were easier, so I’ve been doing them that way for at least 8 years.

I’ve been reading up a bit on articles since then, and I thought you should keep your shoulder blades depressed and retracted during all movements, including pushups. Well, at this workshop I got schooled. Apparently, I am so jacked up from years of doing them “wide” that even though I could do them on my toes and all, I had a bad case of scapular winging going on and was told that I need to do them on a Smith machine and progress downward until I get my form righ, my core is strong enough and my shoulder blades move correctly (they need to move smoothly outward across my rib cage and back…mine want to just go up).

I”ll address a lot of these in more detail in later posts, but this is just a precursor to some of the amazing stuff I learned! I’ll be posting more as I go back through my notes, too. In the mean time, look at this list of stuff, does any of this strike a nerve with any of you? Leave me your feedback and let the humbling begin. :)

Assess and Correct

Assess and Correct empowers YOU by giving you all the tests and corrective exercises necessary to develop a killer warm-up routine.

Inside-Out: The Ultimate Body Warm-Up

This is one of my most highly referenced books.  Excellent for gym goers wanting to know how to design a warm-up before lifting and just as effective for musicians or desk workers to design a stretching routine before playing or stretches to increase mobility.


I use these  for glute activation exercises like lateral tube walking and for a client’s who’s knees cave in when they squat, the band around the knees serves as a tactile cue to keep the knees out.  Can also be used on the upper body.  Check out the video on the webpage; click on the product picture to take you there.  The video is at the bottom.



These giant rubber bands can be used in a myriad of different ways, from band-assisted pull-ups to band-resisted squats, pushups and rows.

Travel Bands

I prefer these bands over regular bands because of the strap in the middle  These straps can be placed around a doorknob or into a doorway to be able to be used overhead for lat pull downs, face pulls, etc.

Stability Balls

There are many types of stability balls.  General guidelines are to get a size appropriate for your height and blow it up to a very firm tension.  When the ball is not blown up firm enough, you will not get adequate support.

This is the one I recommend from Perform Better

Foam Roller

Foam what?  I’m sure most of you have no idea what I’m talking about, but everyone should.  Ever had a massage?  I mean a good, deep tissue massage?  It hurts like mad while it’s being done, you’ll find tight and knotted muscles you didn’t know you had, but when you are done, don’t you feel so much better?  Possibly a bit sore the next day, but much looser, and if you got them frequently, you would probably move a lot more freely, your clothes might fit a little looser due to less knotting of the muscles and water retention and as an added bonus you would probably sleep a lot better.  So why don’t we get massages more often?  Well, cost can be an issue as can having oil/lotion worked into your hair.  We want these benefits….but what do we do?

My friends, let me introduce you to the foam roller; the poor man’s massage therapist.  It comes in varying sizes and lengths but in general, it’s about 36 inches long, looks like a pool noodle but is as hard as a brick.


To use, roll yourself strategically and slowly back and forth (one inch per second) over this device, focusing on the most tender spot.  When you find the most “tender” (read: painful) spot, stay on it for 20-30 seconds.  Hopefully you will feel some release as the trigger point/knot/adhesion begins to release and the muscle regains its normal range of motion.  This should be done before every workout as part of your initial warm-up and is also good to use later, especially before bed.
In athletic work, this helps muscles repair, facilitates stretching, promotes joint flexibility and stimulates blood flow/toxin flushing.  In musicians, all of the above are just as true.  With musicians, a tennis ball may be more of your friend, as it is easier to access your upper body muscles.  Please see the attached videos and articles for descriptions.  Rolling out the lats, upper back and thoraic attention will help a lot with musicians, because we tend to slouch over to our instruments and this can roll out our weak/tight muscles.


Those who should either not use  a foam roller or get a doctor’s permission first are those who:

  • have osteoporosis or weak bones
  • the obese with trouble getting up and down from the floor
  • those who cannot support their body weight from the arm
  • Severe Diabetics with reduced circulation in their lower limbs
  • People with vericose veins (NEVER roll directly over a vein, the rest of the body is appropriate)

A note to those who have either low bone density (osteoporosis), are out-of-shape or overweight or the severely diabetic: you should know that the arms are heavily involved in foam rolling as they support your body weight while you are rolling.  You should also know that foam rolling can be painful and you should be able to distinguish the difference between pain and injury.  If you are not sure, go get a deep tissue massage with trigger point therapy and that will give you a better idea of what to expect.  Foam rolling should never cause bruising.

Other articles you might want to investigate:

  They come in different densities (softer to harder) and sizes, the can also look like this:

Here’s a video to help you see how to use it;

Eric Cressey Foam Rolling

Supplements for General Health

The world of supplements can be an extremely confusing one.  How are you supposed to know the difference between marketing hype and truth? Throw in “muscle building”, “weight loss” and all the other supplements besides general health and most people give up choosing to do nothing than get something they don’t understand.
In the Realm of General Health

First, understand I am not a nutritionist nor am I a registered dietician, so your specific health concerns might demand a different protocol, so please check with your physician first, especially before embarking on any kind of supplement regimen.

In the realm of general health, there are really only 4 supplements with which you need to concern yourself.  With many of these, I will be citing a medical doctor, Dr. Asa Andrew and his book “Empower Your Health”.  Understand that I make no money endorsing his product or any of the products below, these are his thoughts, my opinions and the products below are ones I regularly use.


According to Dr. Asa these 4 supplements are what he calls “The Foundational Four”.  I agree with him and from a training point of view, really, there are not a lot of extra supplements you actually “need”.




Whole Food Multivitamin

This is the first and if you get nothing else, please start with this.  The words “whole food” are incredibly important here.  Brands like “Centrum” and “One-A-Day” are what are called “synthetic” brands; made in a lab, not derived from food.  Whole food multivitamins  are exactly what they sound like: vitamins made from or derived from food.  Your body understands what to do with food (break it down, digest and absorb it), this may not always be true with synthetic, as is evidenced by the large number of “one-a-day’s” found in the bottom of port-o-potties.  (Sorry I had to go there!)

Quote from “Empower Your Health”

In essence, if you are taking a synthetic multivitamin, your body can use virtually none of it.  But they don’t just pass through the body.  Your body has to process anything you consume, so it must process these synthetic supplments, which are man-made and often toxic.  In short, synthetic supplements can actually do more harm than good and may even have adverse side effects, some as severe as sterility.  On the other hand, whole food multis are whole foods with only the water and fiber removed.  They are, in essence, compressed, dried food.


So, what to look for?

  • says “Whole Food” on the label
  • limited shelf life
  • have to take more than one (food can only be condensed so small)

What brand do I use and like?


Whole food vitamins come in different varieties, but I really do like how I feel with this.  One of the best parts?  They include a sample packet when you open it, so if you DON’T like it, you can still return the product “unopened” (This is the boxed version).  They also include a tested ingredient list with actual amounts on the inside, to let you know they tested each batch for accuracy, and you’ll see, what’s listed on the label is the  minimum, usually there’s a little extra in each.

Digestive Enzymes

Nature's Plus ULTRA-ZYME Nature’s Plus ULTRA-ZYME

Digestive Enzymes

This is my go-to favorite.  The pills are small, oblong, and smooth and therefore very easy to swallow. They do not have a potent smell.  I’m starting to notice a brand pattern. :)

From Dr. Asa

Enzymes help break down the food that we eat.  They help you assimilate all your nutrients…The enzymes you take with food will help break down protein, fat, sugar, starch and carbohydrates.  The body contains (or is supposed to contain) most of the enzymes it needs, but with the lifestyle choices of our fast-paced society and the depleted state of our soil, we have lost a lot of our enzymes’ beneficial processes.

The lack of proper enzymes in the body creates a two-fold problem: It impairs the functioning of the immune system, and it results in illness and disease.  Take them with every meal…they will also transform nutrients to become the new healthy cells that your body desperately needs to be well….Look for brands that contain chlorella, chlorophyllase and pepsin, as these are excellent enzymes; and avoid brands that say they have been freeze-dried or frozen, as this process takes away much of the enzymes’ potency.

I can vouch for this as when I do not take my enzymes I, um, don’t digest things well.  When I don’t take them on a regular basis for an amount of time, I REALLY don’t digest things well.  Even with a good diet rich in fiber, whole foods and plenty of water, I can still use these enzymes.  Some people naturally have less HCL in their stomachs, some have too much and if you are missing a gall bladder, you DEFINITELY need to get a brand with a high amount of lipase, the enzyme that breaks down fat.


Omega-3 Fish Oil (Cod Liver Oil)

This is the one that can really get people.  When I mention taking cod liver oil, most people immediately gross out. First off, don’t confuse it with castor oil, the nasty stuff your grandmother gave you as a kid.  Cod Liver Oil is the oil that comes from the liver of the cod fish.  That’s it.  Well, except that it has the highest concentration of Omega-3′s on the planet.  Yes, more than Salmon oil, anchovy, KRILL, flaxseed or anything else.  And let’s talk about flaxseed.  Yes, it’s an omega 3, however, 1) it has to be ground up before you eat it in order for you to absorb it 2) it must be CONVERTED to Omega 3 3) it has a poor absorption rate (only 15-20%), so why bother?

Why does Dr. Asa (and myself) recommend cod liver oil in liquid form? (Stay with me….) Lots of reasons

  • there is less chance that the fish oil is rancid
  • you get more for your money (do you know how many capsules per day you have to take to equal one Tablespoon of oil?  A LOT…do the math yourself)
  • It’s much easier to digest and absorb (nothing to break down, no capsule, etc)
  • Much less chance of contamination or mixtures of anything

In any case, if you were looking for a magic supplement, Omega 3′s are just about as close as we can get.  Google it, and the benefits will take up a whole page.  Back to the pill form, here’s Dr. Asa:

Here is a word of caution about taking oil capsules.  Would you eat fish if it were rancid?  Of course not.  Unfortunately, if you take oil capsules such as cod liver oil or fish oil, you have no way of knowing whether or not hte oil inside those capsules is rancid.  Fish oil is unstable and it starts to oxidize as soon as it is extracted from the fish and exposed to oxygen, metals, lighth and heat.  Fish oil can go rancid within days, although labels often say it’s safe to use it for 3 or 4 years.  Here is how you can protect yourself against this:

  • Test fish oil capsules by biting into one.  It should taste fresh and mildly fishy.  If it tastes bad or excessively strong, throw them away and avoid that brand.
  • Choose brands that include d-gamma and d-delta forms of tocopherols (vitamin E) to prevent harmful oxidation and rancidity

I could go on and on, but I’ll spare you.  Just Google it!  Here are my recommendations on the best brands and best TASTING brands:

This is my favorite.  The brand has one of the highest concentrations of EPA and DHA and the strawberry flavor really cancels out a lot of the fishy taste.  Speaking of DHA and EPA, if you really want to go capsules, forget what it says about “1 gram of fish oil” and look at the label.  The Omega 3′s are the EPA and DHA and if they don’t add up to 1000 you aren’t getting 1 gram of omega 3′s.  1 gram of fish oil, sure, but who cares?  What you are after is Omega 3.  This brand totals up to 1.2 grams of OMEGA 3′s PER TEASPOON.  I take a tablespoon a day.  How many pills do you have to swallow to equal that?  Well, if two pills give you somewhere around 200-300 miligrams….you’d have to take 12 pills to equal one teaspoon.Why bother?!??!  Just get the freakin oil, suck it up and quit whining.  You joints, metabolism, hair skin, nails, brain and immune system will thank you.Need one more testimony? True story, if I stop taking this for a couple days in a row, my allergies come back with ROARING ferocity.  Think this has anything to do with the fact that cod liver oil is a potent anti-inflammtory?  I think so.

Second brand I like:

Barlean's Organic Oils COD LIVER OIL Barlean’s Organic Oils COD LIVER OIL

The lemon flavor is a little strong, but the stats are comparable to the Nordic Naturals brand.


Long and short of probiotics: these are the “good” bacteria.

Good bacteria are essential for proper digestion, increased immune function, and reduced inflammation…probiotic bacterial cultures help the body’s naturally occurring organisms in the digestive tract reestablish themselves and allow for effective and healthy digestion.  Choose brands that contain healthy strands of bacteria and are made from quality ingredients.  Most probiotics need to be refrigerated to maintain effectiveness even if they promote having a long shelf life.

the Vitamin Shoppe ULTIMATE  10  PROBIOTIC The Vitamin Shoppe ULTIMATE 10 PROBIOTIC

This is the brand that I use.  There are 10 different strains of bacterial with 13 BILLION in each capsule.  When looking for probiotics, look for billions, you are wasting your time with millions.  Also, these are enteric coated, meaning, they are coated so that they will pass through the stomach undigested where they will be broken down in your intestines, where they are absorbed.  That’s what happens in your intestines, it’s where you absorb things.  Your stomach has the job of the breakdown, absorption happens in intestines.  When you get “burp free” fish oil capsules that are enteric coated, this is why; they are broken down in the intestines, and once they’ve passed to there, you can’t burp up stuff.  You have a sphincter muscle called the “duodenum” I believe, that connects the stomach and intestine.  Once things pass through there, it closes up, nothing comes back up.  If you burp up your “enteric coated, burp-free” fish oil…you know the brand is lying to you, or they are old.

So how much?

Only a doctor can tell you for sure, with your specific needs, but this is what I take and what is recommended:

  • One serving of multivitamins a day (usually 3)
  • 1 Tablespoon of cod liver oil per day (with food)
  • digestive enzymes with every meal
  • probiotics 1-2 times per day, morning on empty stomach or before bed

Anything else?

the Vitamin Shoppe C-1000 Complex The Vitamin Shoppe C-1000 Complex

C-1000 Complex

I personally recommend supplementing with some Vitamin C in your diet, especially if you do not eat or like large amounts of citrus, other fruits or green leafy vegetables.  It’s an antioxidant that protects your cells against free radical damage and can also  protect your fish oil against oxidation.

By the way, Vitamin Shoppe happens to run a Buy 1 Get 1 50% off special every April and either September or October on their brands. You can mix and match, so if you got the Vitamin C above, you could get the probiotics half off, or vice versa. Or you could do what I do and get two of each and stock up, that way you have to buy them less often.

If you would like to purchase any of the above items, you can do so easily here through my Amazon store. (If the music side of the Amazon store is showing up below, look for the “fitness products” links to the right to change the store).  This makes it very easy to see which health and fitness products I personally recommend.


Hope you found this helpful, let me hear your thoughts!

Thanks to AllyNation for help with website.

Thanks to my friend Jonathan Nation for being the best and helping me out with this new website for Music Strong!

You can see some of his work at Ally Nation & Starting Cube.

Thanks again,

 ~ Angela

Thanks for the Pix

A special thanks to for all they have done, including taking pictures of a Panama City Beach Boot Camp, allowing us to use them & more.

Here are some of the images:









How to Squat – From Diesel Strength

Diesel Strength and Conditioning | Athletic Strength Training.

This is a comprehensive (read: long and highly detailed) post on HOW to squat.

It’s amazing that something so incredibly simple, something we did as 2-year olds without a second thought has become so incredibly difficult for us.  Unless your daily job has you squatting (like lots of people who are not in a cubicle-based-computer-obsessed societies do), we have forgotten this most basic of human functions.  Our hips are stiff, we bend at the “waist” because we don’t know where our hips  are, we round at the back and keep our legs straight….it goes on and on.

Just look at the picture of this child squatting and what do you see?  No problems with balance or flexibility, no excess tension, she hasn’t learned any muscle compensations – no, everything works exactly as it should.

Compare this with your typical desk jockey….think this range of motion would be easy?

Not likely.  Attainable yes, but with LOTS of work.  Which tells me there is hope for all of us!  Just because you can’t squat not doesn’t mean you can’t learn and get there.  You can work on your mobility, your flexibility and technique and it can happen for you.


And just because it makes me happy to look at pictures of happy kids squatting with perfect, unadulterated technique, here’s another picture of how we were born to squat….BEFORE we learned to mess it up. Yes, that’s right, we LEARNED to mess it up.  Which means you can un-learn it!

Everything about what this child is doing is right!  His spine is in neutral alignment, his neck is free, his knees are in line with his toes….how did we go from that to all wrong?


We went from this beautiful picture of ease to this:


You get my point.


In fact, let’s get back to the article at hand.  This article put out by Diesel Crew will show you a lot of different ways to squat and coaching cues to all of them.

The take-aways from this post  are EXACTLY what I talked about in my presentation at NFA: the 3 aspects of form you must master if you want to lift.  You must arch your back (keeping your chest tall, towards the ceiling) draw your shoulder blades back and down, and drawing the belly button in toward the spine – also known as “bracing” which they cover in the double breath.

From the article:

How to Squat Video Series Summary

How to Squat – Squat Tip #1 – Elbows Down, Chest Up

How to Squat – Squat Tip #2 – Setting the Lats

How to Squat – Squat Tip #3 – Setting the Lower Back

How to Squat – Squat Tip #4 – Fewest Steps Possible

How to Squat – Squat Tip #5 – The Double Breath

Tip #1 – Elbows Down / Chest Up

After you unrack the bar and before you even attempt to move into the squat, you must take care of your elbows and chest. You must drive the elbows down. Drive them down until they are facing the ground. As you drive the elbows down, you’ll notice something else; your chest rises. This is a good thing. In fact, you need to accentuate this thoracic extension.

Driving the elbows down will help you engage the lats for more stability and tension. The lats are an important part of the “core“. This, along with pulling your chest up, will keep your head up when you are in the bottom (hole) of the squat.

Because what will happen when your elbows drift up and back?

Your torso will fall forward and the hips will rise too early when you are drive upward. You see this with athletes who don’t have good torso strength or immobile ankles, hips and upper back. This might be ok when the weights are light, but will put a lot of stress on the lower back when the weights get heavier.

Remember “perfect practice makes perfect”, so keep drilling form.

So you’ll notice first off, the chest must be high and the elbows come back.  This CAN help retract and depress the shoulder blades, but what you’ll notice most of all is that you set the bar high on your traps (NOT ON YOUR NECK! :) ) and then only way to do this is to have your hands on the bar in a closer grip so that they are close to your shoulders, not far away.  This can lead to big time instability.


Tip #2 – Setting the Lats

When the lifter prepares to squat, they must first create tension. This is especially true if the weight is a max or near maximal effort. In the first part of the how to squat series we learned about pulling our elbows down and our chest up. As we do this, the next step is to squeeze the bar very hard. Not only squeeze the bar hard, but engage the lats by pulling the bar into your upper back. This tension is so important for stabilizing the torso, protecting the spine, helping you to remain upright and increasing the amount of weight you can lift.

In fact, renowned back special Stuart Mcgill states that the simple act of engaging the lats during the squat can add 20-30lbs to your squat weight immediately.

Remember, more tension equals more strength.

See that beautiful picture of the back muscles?  Those muscles are HUGE players in helping you play the flute.  If they are weak and can’t stand up to the task of holding the flute up, when they fatigue, your rotator cuff muscles and shoulders take over, even your chest muscles and your neck flexors take over and you wonder why you’re in pain.


If that last paragraph wasn’t enough to convince you, make sure to head over to the article via the link above and check out the videos.  You can see that when performing this squat, the shoulder blades are squeeze together (what he calls setting the lats) and arches the back (lots of lovely good tension there keeping the back in neutral alignment) and the core is safe and protected and stiff – in a good way.  The amount of strength and power to do any kind of squat with good form is immense and translates into being strong enough to handle the demands of playing Beethoven, Tchaikovsky or Debussy.  Squatting will give you a strong core and a strong body, which equals a strong flutist!


Tip #3 – Setting the Lower Back

Setting the lower back is as easy as slightly arching the lower back (into it’s natural curve) while taking a huge breath and isometrically contracting the abdominals simultaneously.

When you first watch the video it might look like Ryan is overarching his lower back. He is in fact, just setting it hard into its natural position and holding it. Most times when lifters unload the bar from the way they assume a posterior pelvic tilt under the weight. This position isn’t optimal especially when we talk about stabilizing the lower back and pelvis prior to squatting. He has to consciously move his pelvis back to neutral and “set it”. And like we stated, this is a dual effort with the bracing of the abdominals and his breathing pattern.

Coaching Cues

Remember, don’t just squat down. You will lose tension!!! Move the hips slightly back (loading the hamstrings and glutes and setting the back) and spread the knees. The act of spreading the knees will lower you (under tension) into the hole.

I didn’t go into too much detail with this at the convention.  Arching the lower back is good, and you should not do it to the point of lordosis (as you can see in the picture) but what it does is that it forces the spine to stay in neutral alignment and stay safe. Practice these basics of form without weight until your are comfortable, because as you can see by now they are crucial to safety and strength.

Something else they touch on is the hip hinge.  This is something I really talked a lot about in my presentation and if you’ve ever gone to any body mapping or Alexander Technique classes, you’ll know what it is.  The hip hinge is basically understanding where your hips are and bending from that place while keeping your spine in neutral alignment.  In layman’s terms?

  • put your fingers in the crease between your leg and body
  • Push
  • your butt should go back
  • if not, 1) you are pushing in the wrong spot 2) you are not pushing hard enough 3) your body doesn’t know what the heck you’re doing because you haven’t bent this way in so long and is trying to bend from the middle of the spine like usual.
  • as your butt goes back, you should feel a pulling stretch in the back of your legs
  • Keep your shoulder blades back and down, neck looking down or slightly in front of you and lower back arched – thus, keeping your back in neutral alignment.

You MUST master this before attempting any kind of big lifts like squats or deadlifts, or even Romaninan Dealifts, Good Mornings or split squat.  You truly need to understand that the body should bend at the hips (which are not the body things that stick out of your body at the top of your legs – that’s the top of your pelvis, your hips are the JOINT) and your butt and hamstrings should do the work of pulling you upright again.  We’ll get into this in a later article

To end the article I really like how they talk about mobility exercises for the upper AND lower body, because the squat is truly a full body exercise, not just a lower body one.  If you have lousy upper body mobility (aka, your arms don’t go backwards much, chest is tight, etc.) you will not squat well.  Period.  Give some of these exercises and stretches a shot and see how they work for you.  The favorites are the upper body mobility work, shown below.  This, believe it or not DOES have to do with your squat, but they are all excellent exercises/stretches to do:

  • before your workout
  • before your practice session
  • in the morning or before bed
  • any other time of day – the more you do them the more flexible you become!

NFA Convention Recap

So I’ve been back from the convention for a few weeks already, and I haven’t found the time to be able to write anything!  My head has been swimming with thoughts and ideas, but, fortunately for me, business has picked up in a big way and, well, I had a lot to catch up on.  You see, the last day of the convention, an article about me and my boot camp class was run in the Sunday paper.  A full page full color spread in the Lifestyle section!  I’ve seen an increase in personal training clients from that, so I’ve been up to my eye balls in writing plans, training clients, running my boot camp classes and responding to the emails and questions I got from NFA.  I have put out a newsletter since then, which gave a big update on the convention, and if you aren’t signed up for my mailing list, you can do so in the bar to your right where it says “sign up for our newsletter” and I will send you the latest one!

Oh yes, and if you want more information about my boot camp classes (the one to the right was taken at our beach location) you can check out the new website! It’s at  I’d love it if you left a comment and can give me your feedback.

So what happened at the NFA?
As stated in previous blog posts, I was very blessed to have been able to give two presentations.  The first was on Friday at 5 PM and was a panel discussion titled “Injury Prevention and Pain Management”.  My fellow panel members, Dr. Susan Fain, Karen Lonsdale and Lea Pearson along with myself all spoke on different topics relating to playing the flute and some suggestions on overcoming the special health challenges it presented.  Lea talked about breathing and body mapping, Karen talked about the ergonomics of the flute and how to set up for practicing be it solo or in a band setting and Susan talked about some common injuries and solutions to them with posture and stretching.  I, of course, gave a quick overview on the benefits of strength training for flutists.  I had so much to say and sadly, I ran out of time – 10 minutes just isn’t long enough!

We had a really wonderful turnout and I did not have enough handouts for everyone to get one, so if you would like a copy of my handout for this presentation and did not receive one, you can download it here:

Using Strength Training to Prevent Injury and Improve Pain


My second presentation was just me and it was on Sunday at 8 AM.  I went far more into depth about the benefits of strength training for flutists, and then demonstrated proper weight lifting form (which we all did together), did a little body mapping in finding where our hips are (here’s a hint, it’s not the bone that sticks out) and then we did some sample stretches and some activation exercises.  It was a lot of fun, and again, I ran out of time.
The easiest way to for me to remedy my problem is for flute clubs and associations to hire me to come out for a day or a weekend to give a workshop and then we can really go  in-depth about how things work, and do some exercises together!  In fact, I had a few people approach me about doing that very thing so be on the lookout to see me coming to your area and if you would like me to come to your area, you can get in touch with me by emailing me at or via the contact link on my website:

Again I had a great turn out and ran out of handouts so if you would like a handout and didn’t get one, you can download it here:


Lift, Play, Love : Basic Weight Lifting for Efficient Flute Playing

I also had a “muscle man” image that I used that went along with both handouts. You can get him here:


Career Development Workshop

I am very grateful to have been selected as a participant in the 2nd Annual Career and Artistic Development Committee’s Career Development Workshop.  The room was not nearly big enough to hold all the people and we had people spilling out into the hallway trying to get in!  We learned a lot of things: from how to write a mission statement, to a bio, to a cover letter, to how to take a good publicity photo and what NOT to do.

In addition, I and two other people got to present our business ideas to the group and ask for help on certain parts of our projects.  I presented my business Music Strong, and while it is not exactly in its fledgling stages and I have a lot of the work done, my biggest problem is in reaching my audience.  I needed help finding out how to go to where the flutists are and where the people who need me are.

I got a LOT of positive feedback from people who heard me; compliments on the business concept, comments on how excited people were that I was doing this and overall enthusiasm for my business.  I also got asked to come give a presentation in Texas, so be on the lookout for information there!


Other wonderful happenings

I had a lot of great things happen at the convention.  Besides my name getting out there and being recognized, I was also asked to help man the Performance Health Committee’s booth.  I was more than happy to do so – not only for the opportunity to socialize and network with my fellow health professionals, but to answer questions and help the myriad of people who came by with health questions.  It is so rewarding to be able to look at someone, listen to their problems and even if you cannot diagnose or fix their problems, you can give them HOPE and that is super exciting.

I made a lot of new connections, new friends and got a lot of great music I hope to be performing soon.  The convention was a success in every way and I’m very blessed to be able to have been a part of it. Now I’m working on presentation proposals for next year for Vegas!

If you went to the convention, if you got the chance to come to these presentations, workshops or even if you didn’t, I’d love to hear your comments about it and if you have suggestions on future articles or presentations, I am welcome to those as well.

Meanwhile, here are some pictures from the convention.  I hope you enjoy!

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See you in Vegas!

Exciting Announcement!

After my NFA panel presentation on “Injury Prevention and Pain Management” I was approached by Mary O’Brien from about writing for her website on a regular basis.  I gladly said yes so keep a lookout for my articles there.  My first post is going to be about that very panel presentation topic.  I am very excited to be writing for on a regular basis and I hope to see many of you over there leaving comments and benefitting from the great articles on that site.  Please share with your flute friends, and if you have a specific topic you would be interested in seeing me write about, please don’t hesitate to send me an email at or leave a comment in the comment section below.

Be on the lookout very soon for a convention recap, complete with pictures and handout links.  There has been so much gong on I have not been able to do the recap yet, but it will be going out very soon!

Into the Headwind

I had a LOVELY bike ride today. By some standards it would not be considered as such. Why, do you ask?

Simple, because of the 22 miles, 11 of them were INTO the wind. And not just any wind. Tropical something-or-other Lee blew through here the last few days. I rode down Hwy 98 and up 30-A, which for those who don’t know is right along the Gulf of Mexico the whole way. The waves are up and the wind was blowing big time in my face.

Why would I like that? Well, besides the fact that I knew that I would get to FLY back (oh and I did, it was fun!) was because I knew that mother nature was providing the resistance. It was like a Drill Sergeant: you never knew how long the challenge would last or what it would be. Just when I thought that I was going to get a break, I’d upshift to make it a little higher and I’d be hit with a 15mph gust that almost threw me off the bike. I’d put my head down and push through it…and the wind would let up long enough for me to enjoy the scenery.

Riding your bike outdoors forces you to challenge yourself. You have to peddle yourself back one way or another because no one is going to come get you! And you can’t just get off, like on a stationary bike. Besides this, you get scenery.

I guess that’s it, the challenge is what I’m after. I like being challenged, and the road does that. I don’t know what the wind will do, if I’ll have to be on my toes for potholes, or what, but it’s a challenge to take yourself out so far only to know you have to get yourself back and no amount of whining or complaining will change that.

It’s easy to get yourself off a piece of gym equipment, to walk out of the practice room, to just get up and leave things, but when you are out cycling, running, maybe even swimming if you aren’t in a pool, there’s no one but yourself to depend on to get yourself back.

In the Army, we call that INTESTINAL FORTITUDE.

I like it, but I also like to call it inner strength, and finding out that you really are made of more than you thought you were.

So find your method of challenge – and go discover your own amount of intestinal fortitude! :)

The Joy of a Deadlift Well Done

Cookie Monster

Image by nickstone333 via Flickr

I came across this video the other day in a post I read from a girl powerlifter.  She also LOVES cookies, and calls herself the “Cookie Monster”.  She is living proof of 3 things:

  1. You can be a female powerlifter and still be feminine
  2. You can be a female who lifts a LOT of weight (like over 200 lbs.) and not get “bulky” – um, she’s TINY, but with fantastic curves (she’s very proud of them).
  3. You can still enjoy cookies and not give them up for life, when you lift and enjoy them occassionally. :)  Read her blog sometime (watch out for her language though, sometimes she’s unedited, and she does that on purpose) and get inspired.

Musings of a Powerlifter « Munchies, Muscles, and Mischief.


Ok, but the point of this post is the video I found of Benedict Magnusson performing, get this, a 1015 lb. deadlift!  I believe he holds the title of world’s strongest man.

There are a few things to notice in this video:

  1. The Power of the Crowd – do you think he could have done this without all the cheering, yelling, encouragement and yes, even the yelling he did himself to psych himself up for the lift?  I seriously doubt it.  Studies have been done on this very effect.  Studies aside, think about it. When you are doing something, anything that’s difficult, don’t you feel like you have the power to outperform even your own expectations because of the encouragement of the people around you?  Now think of a library, or a tennis court; it’s quiet, almost awkard it’s so quiet.  Imagine trying to perform this lift in that kind of atmosphere.  I seriously doubt it could happen.  This is why classes  like my Boot Camp Class are so good for you: you feel motivated, encouraged and you NATURALLY end up doing more because of the people around you.
  2. His form was spot on.  He didn’t “hump” the weight.  No rounding of the back, waggling back and forth, compensating by putting his hips up first, scooping or anything else.  No.  His form was exactly the way it should be with his spine in neutral alignment and his body using the muscles God intended to be used for this lift: his posterior chain,  not his upper back, quads and hip flexors but his hamstrings, glutes and back muscles.  He didn’t have to compensate to look good in front of other people by sacrificing his form to get the weight up.  No, he did it exactly right on the way up AND down.  Did you notice that?  He set it down with perfect form, too!
  3. He set it down with perfect form. He didn’t feel the need to drop the weight from that high instead of setting it down under control (1000 lbs. would probably have left a hole in the floor anyway).   How many people in the gym do YOU see, lifting more weight than they can with good form to convince themselves they are really stronger than they are (when all they are really asking for is a slipped disk)  I mean, I can’t even watch this video all the way it makes me cringe so bad. This guy is asking to be paralyzed.  But I see it in the gym every time I go in there.  He’s trying to make himself feel like he’s strong when he has no idea what he’s doing, and he WILL get hurt doing it.  What are the differences between him and Benedikt?  Can you see it?
  4. The smile of satisfaction.  My favorite part of this whole video is when he got the weight locked out at the top and he looks around and smiles; the crowd goes nuts.  That is the look of a man who is satisfied with knowing he didn’t cheat, didn’t compensate, he lifted an INSANE amount of weight without hurting himself and he has every right to gloat.  The guy in the last video has no right to anything but a broken back.

I plan on posting a deadlifting post later, but for now, I just want to share this one because it makes me laugh with happiness everytime I watch it.  Everything about it is what’s good about lifting weight: you’re strong, you’re confident, you’re competent, you have no NEED to gloat about anything because you have control over your body.


Lift on. :)

When Was the Last Time You Took A Break?

Like most siblings, I grew up driving my brother crazy, and him doing the same to me.  He’d try to hug me, I’d get grossed out, he’d get mad, I’d cry, you know, the usual.  Then I went to college and left him at home with mom and dad and the coolest thing happened: we became friends.

Me and my little brother

I count my brother among one of my best friends now.  He knows me unlike few others (save my husband and parents) and can relate to me on a large scale.  We both love music (though in different ways), LOVE lifting and can talk for hours about nutrition, psychology and our workouts.

One of the funniest things that happens between us happens over and over again.  One of us will call the other looking for advice about some aspect of nutrition or asking some question about “why is my strength stalling?  I can’t bust through my plateau!” etc. and invariably, one of us will ask the other

“When was the last time you took a break?”

It never fails, give us a few months and one of us will be calling the other complaining about something and that question will arise from the other one of us.  That’s one of the neat things about having a sibling with which you share a lot of common traits: we undersand that both of us

  • overanalyze things to death
  • are dead-set of getting things right the first time
  • When we get into something we go in 110% – we don’t dabble….which invariably leads to burnout

All of these traits can be seen in a positive or negative light.   On the positive side, the analyzation leads to greater self-awareness and discovery with deeper understanding for future struggles and the perfectionism and enthusiasm belie a FANTASTIC work ethic.  On the negative, the analyzing will drive our friends and/or significant others crazy, we tend to lose out on the learning process by perfectionism and by ceasing to dabble in something, burnout occurs a lot faster.  I’m willing to bet that a lot of you reading this can relate to me on one, if not all of those personality traits.

So the question invariably comes up

When was the last time you took a break?

From dieting?

From training?

From practicing?

The list can go on and on.  We all need times of solitude, times of respite, of quiet.  We need times to break out of our routines and habits – which is why we go on vacations.  But sometimes, you don’t necessarily need a vacation from life, you need a vacation from your workout or your diet.

Two Take-Home Points

1. If you find yourself asking “when was the last time I took a break” and have a hard time answering definitively, that’s your first clue it’s time for a break

2. There are warning signs everywhere

  • you are not sleeping well
  • you have no desire to workout
  • you are frequently tired
  • You DREAD going to practice and when you are there, you get very little done, you have little stamina
  • You are in pain more often
  • The things that used to bring you joy now cause you dread
  • just thinking about your workout makes you tired
  • you suffer physically.  This can be seen in any number of ways, be it lack of sleep, lack of interest in things, joint pain, muscle pain, headaches, feeling “wired but tired”, hair becomes dry or falls out, you get sick more often and take longer to recover (sick can mean anything from viruses to allergies, because your immune system becomes cocmpromised)

The gym is for tearing down, rest is for repair and building

When you lift weights, you aren’t going to build or strengthen your body, you are literally tearing your body down.  You cause low-grade (sometimes mid-grade) inflammation and during REST is when your body repairs the damage you’ve done, creating new tissue, stronger or bigger tissue.  If you are constantly working out, going heavy 6 days a week and not giving your body a chance to repair, pretty soon you’re going to hit a wall.

Rest is underrated and you desperately need it.  If you’ve been lifting 5-6 days per week for years, I beg you to stop.  Switch to 3 days a week and work your whole body.  Do the big lifts: deadlifts, squats, bench press, pull ups or rows and throw in extra stuff for mobility and stability like lunges on top of it.  It will feel weird at first, but I dare you to do it for 3 months and see if you don’t grow more during that time than you ever have since you started.

Sometimes, you need a break from your diet.

We have break times like this at Christmas, Thanksgiving and maybe your Grandma’s birthday party, but if you have been anal retentive about your diet or even been gung-ho and “on your diet” for months and can’t remember the last time you just let yourself eat….it’s time.  You have to be willing to trust yourself that you will do yourself no harm by not tracking and weighing your food.  If you’ve been dieting for months and can’t remember the last time you ate at maintenance calories, then today is the day.  Stop today and take 2 weeks, starting today, and eat at maintenance calories.

What about practicing?

So what happens when you take a break?

You might find out that a host of good things happens.  Not only does your enthusiasm for the sport or the instrument return, in regards to lifting: you might have gotten stronger, or bigger or even leaner, depending on what you were trying to accomplish in the first place.  When the inflammation response goes down, water drops, muscle repairs and hormones stabilize, good things happen and suddenly, what you were training for, actually starts to work the way you were hoping.

My brother's amazing calvesCalves like these are grown OUT of the gym.  Just ask my brother, they belong to him and he works out 2 DAYS A WEEK.

In regards to practicing, I assure you, your technique does not fly out the window, your tone does not disappear, nor do you simply lose everything you worked for in the last decade. On the contrary.  Just like in lifting, good things can happen.  Your tone, your technique, your memory, whatever you’ve been working on can actually IMPROVE!

Point in case…

Let me tell you a story.  At some point during my first year of graduate school I said to myself “I want to be principal flute of USO” (the top university orchestra).  I thought this thought once and filed it away in my subconscious.  I worked very hard on my excerpts and worked all year to improve.

Then came the summer.  I knew I should practice, and I did, in fact, but I practiced piccolo mostly.  I didn’t practice that much.  A few hours a week, maybe, not a few hours a day.  I began practicing in earnest about a week or two before auditions for the next school year, just to see how things were.

I stepped into the practice room and to my amazement,

  • my tone was better
  • my technique was spot on, better than during the school year and more accurate
  • my excerpts, while certainly not flawless, were better than I had ever played them, even without working on them all summer.

I went in to the audition room, played the Debussy the best I ever had (in one breath no less!) , nailed William Tell FLAWLESSLY, had FUN in the audition and guess what?  I got 1st chair.
What happened?

What happened was that I gave my body, my mind and my abilities time to rest.  I worked hard all year on improving my technique, my tone and my excerpts, then I basically took 2-3 months OFF.  It allowed my brain and my body to actually absorb and process what I had learned.  You see, you don’t necessarily get better when you are in the middle of practicing, the results show up later.  What they forget to tell you is that it’s partly a result of rest.

So, take heart from my story, and take a break.  Your body will thank you. :)

Activating the Lower Traps

Muscles connecting the upper extremity to the ...

Image via Wikipedia

What are the lower traps and what do I mean by activate?  This is by no means an exhaustive, comprehensive post, but this should give you a general idea.

There are three parts of the trapezius muscle: the upper fibers (used to bring your shoulders to your ears), the middle fibers that bring your shoulders up and also inward, just like the rhomboids, and the lower fibers (that pull your shoulder blades downward.)  If you will, try a little exercise with me for a minute: pull your shoulder blades down.  Kind of an odd feeling, isn’t it?  When was the last time you remembered performing this kind of action?  Probably not very recently, as we don’t spend a good deal of time with our shoulder blades back and down….unless we’re doing a good stretch because we’ve been sitting at the computer for too long.

Now, lift your shoulders towards your ears – fairly easy?  This action is performed readily when the “fight or flight” syndrome is engaged; pulling our shoulders towards our ears is a protective mechanism.  What else feels tight when you hold your shoulders there?  Well, if you hold your shoulders there long enough, you might feel several things

  • tightness at the base of your neck
  • a pain or pulling in your rhomboids or that vague area somewhere “in between my shoulder blades”
  • your chest feels sore from contracting
  • you begin to feel a pulling soreness along your rib cage

and several other things.  What happens all too often is that the “shrug mechanism” is seen in a lot of people’s posture today.  Our more sedentary lifestyles coupled with movements that encourage a protruding head and neck and arms forward posture have led to an epidemic of sorts of “bad posture”.  I say “bad” because really, what we get is altered posture due to muscle compensation.

This is one of the reasons I do not advocate anyone (except bodybuilders who are training for size and symmetry) include shrugging movements in their weight training regimens.  Most of us, who train for function and stability (and even those of us training for size) need to be focused on the middle and lower fibers of the trapezius.

When the upper traps are chronically activated, this can lead to dysfunction in the form of the lower (and possibly middle) traps becoming weakened to the point of “sleeping”.  This term is used not in a literal sense but to describe the problem of muscle imbalances caused by the upper traps being chronically activated, which causes the lower trapezius muscle fibers to not fire properly.

What to do: Activation Exercises

First off, as stated in several previous posts, you must first stretch what is tight.  In this case, that can be several muscles: the pectoralis major and minor muscles (chest), levator scapulae and scalenes (muscles in the neck) are the ones I would stretch first.  These can be accomplished with a doorway stretch (at 90 degrees to hit the pec major and with the arm extended to hit serratus and pec minor) and the specific stretches for levators as seen in the previous post: The Flutist’s Pain Points

Once the tight muscles have been stretched (also called autogenic inhibition – or static stretching) one can move into activation exercises: which could also be called active-isolated stretching.  This is done by a process called Reciprocal Inhibition which uses agonistic and synergistic muscles to dynamically move the joint into a range of motion.  These stretches are done for 1-2 sets of each exercise and hold each stretch for 1-2 seconds for 5-10 repetitions.

Activation Exercises

The lower and middle traps are vital for shoulder stability, so doing exercises to ensure they are doing their job is vitally important.  The first rule of strength training form is to retract and depress the shoulder blades.  This not only ensures that the middle and lower traps (as well as the rhomboids) are active and functional, it inhibits upper trap, levator and other compensatory muscles from taking over.  Use this motion any time during the day as an exercise on its own, and then use it during strength training sessions to make sure your shoulder girdle is stable and lower traps are activated.

Some excellent exercises for activating the lower traps (and rhomboids – as by now you can see they can be synergists) are wall slides, soup can pours, Face Pulls, Prone lower trap raises and LYTP’s.  The primary movements, as discussed before, are Adduction (retraction) and depression.   This website lists some excellent exercises, shows their movements and gives more anatomical descriptions.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but a few suggestions on some exercises you can do to “wake up” those lower traps.  For a warm-up, I might do something like this:

  • Active Pectoral Chest Stretch (major and minor – 90 degrees and extended) 1-2 setsx5-10 reps each. Hold 1-2 sec.
  • Wall slides 1-2 sets of 5-10 reps
  • Arm circles 1-2 sets of 5-10 reps
  • Scapular pushups or dip shrugs 1-2 sets of 5-10 reps
  • LYTP’s on stability ball or bench
  • Prone lower trap raises on incline bench

By now, your lower traps should feel a pleasant “burning” or tingling sensation, letting you know that the muscles are beginning to fire.  After this, I would probably follow up with a few rotator cuff exercises to help with shoulder stability.  In fact, Diesel Crew has put out an excellent circuit for “shoulder rehab” that you might want to check out.  You can sub it in for the circuit above. (Always check with your doctor or a qualified medical professional if you have any shoulder injuries, issues or concerns before attempting any of these exercises.)


(By the way, I LOVE the pull up retractions!)  And flutists (and other musicians) you should pay special attention to this video!  These are great exercises to perform before practicing, or any other time of day you want to counter balance the effects of playing your instrument.


From there, with whatever workout I was doing, I would make sure to include exercises that engage the lower traps and throw in one or two exercises to help strengthen the shoulder girdles, my favorite exercise being face pulls.  These are very easy to do incorrectly if the shoulder blades are not depressed and retracted.

The list goes on…

There are lots and lots of exercises to increase shoulder stability and when you make a regular habit of incorporating these activation exercises into your programs, you will not only see increased stability, but an increased range of motion, a possible decrease in pain and a possible improvement in upper thoracic posture.

Make sure to include lower trap activation exercises in every warm-up if not each workout!  Please let me know how these exercises worked for you and your own experiences!

Off to NFA!

It’s finally here!  Hard to believe it but today I am leaving to go to the National Flute Association Convention.  I will have a JAM-PACKED schedule and that doesn’t even include just going around to the things I WANT to visit!

So far:

Wednesday: Meet up with Flute Specialists and see if I can help them set up their booth.  This is after checking in, of course. :)


8AM “You on the Page” Career Artistic Development Mini-Conference participant

9 AM: “You in Pictures” CAD mini-conference Participant

5 PM: Presenting  “Practical Steps Towards Injury Prevention and Management”


8 AM: “You in Your Work” CAD mini-conference participant

9 AM: “You, learning from others” CAD


8 AM: Presenting “Lift, Play, Love: Basic Weight Lifting for Efficient Flute Playing”

That, of course, doesn’t include going to the other lectures, exhibits, classes and playing!  I hope to do a good bit of reading and playing with others and I’m really looking forward to it.  If not there, you just might find me hanging out around the Flute Specialists table, maybe even in the gym doing my own workout or helping others.

Want to see the entire schedule?  Check out my previous post with a link to it!
If you’re there, I really look forward to meeting you- come say hi!  When I get back, I fully intend to write up a nice recap of the experiences with links to my handouts.  See you in Charlotte!

The Most Annoying Part of Exercising

Male pelvis

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You know what annoys me most about exercising?

It isn’t getting up early or making time for it in my day, it isn’t the study and research involved in my job, it isn’t the educational aspect, it isn’t the soreness or the dedication or any of the obvious things.

It’s the increased oxygen flow to the brain that causes me to come up with so many great ideas (future blogs, articles, business ideas, etc) and the sucky thing is that well, I’m exercising and I can’t exactly write them down.  It’s next to impossible to write your ideas down when you’re on a bike or in the middle of a run, and of course, they leave you when you stop.

Now, can you make that work to your advantage?  Of course!  The case obviously can be made that the mild annoyance of not being able to record things as easily in the middle of a workout is far offset by the fact that 1) your brain is getting more oxygen 2) your blood is becoming more oxygenated 3) your lymph system is flowing better 4) your cardiovascular system is improving 5) you are getting stronger physically and mentally and because of all those wonderful things that come with movement 6) you are now getting better ideas than you would have had if you had just been sitting in front of the TV, computer or steering wheel.

A personal update:

Have I mentioned I suck at running?  If you recall my previous post about “Do What You Suck At” you’ll realize that since I said that, there’s a good chance I do it anyway….and you’d be partly correct.  See, I really despise running….mostly because I don’t do it well (isn’t that how it always goes?), however, that’s only part of the reason.  I’ve had problems running ever since I joined the Army.  I started running right before I joined because I thought “I’m going to basic training, and they run constantly, from what I’ve heard, and I don’t want to get injured or not be able to keep up”.  So I started running pretty regularly and actually started to enjoy it.  However, it’s been kind of a love/hate relationship since then.

While at basic training, I suffered a muscle strain in my left hip that left me limping for probably 6 out of the 9 weeks and running was painful.  The most I got was “no running, take ibuprofin and ice it”.  So I got out of running sometimes, though I tell you this, at basic, you run whether you are injured or not because 1) you don’t want to be seen as weak 2) you don’t want to let your comrades down or fall behind and 3) if the Drill Sergeants see you giving it your all if not 110%, they’ll let up on you a little bit, out of respect.  When my platoon had to run, even though I was on a profile, I ran with them, till the drill sergeants yelled at me because I wasn’t supposed to run.  But I refused to just sit there while everyone else had to do things.

I digress….

It wasn’t until later when I had a car accident that I went to a chiropractor who found out the probable cause of my hip pain: my pelvis is twisted….in 3 directions.  Your pelvis is supposed to face forward and be level.  Mine?  It’s tilted forward (top more forward than the bottom), twisted to the left AND one side is higher than the other, making one leg shorter than the other.

This translates, obviously to muscle imbalances: my hip flexors are not carrying equal load, nor are my low back muscles, glutes, piriformis, etc.  The hip complex has a whole host of muscles attached to it, and if things are not as they should be you are begging for problems.

What does this mean for me?  Well, it means that I have had all kinds of major problems from running, even with chiropractic adjustment: bursitis of the IT band, hip strains, calf strains, mysterious pain that originates on the side of the hip, shoots through the knee and down into the ankle and overall, and what ailed me after last year’s PT test, a mysterious hip pain on the right side that ended up being several causes: right side overstretched, left side understretched, a psoas weakness and a possible strain in the illiacus.

Sadly, this is genetic.  My mom has the same condition, so there was nothing I could do to avoid it.
There ARE things I can do to help, with today’s successful running venture a testament.

Combating Muscle Weakness, Pain and Imbalance with Proper Stretching

First of all, I made the foam roller a major friend today.  Knowing the left side is under stretched, I concentrated on foam rolling my TFL (tensor fascia latae) .  The TFL, if you notice, is a little difficult to get to, right on the outside side of the pelvic crest and can be extremely painful, as was my case today.  I concentrated on finding the most tender (aka painful) spot and sat on it, and then rolled around, trying to get it to relax.  From there I foam rolled all the hip flexors in front, especially on the left side, which this morning, were particularly painful.  They’re also a little difficult to get to, but what I noticed was that it was the origin points of the muscle (where they begin and attache to the  pelvis) that was the most painful: the quad origins, TFL, pectineus were all bothering me.  My piriforms muscles were also very tight today.  After rolling these, I made sure to hit my adductors and as I suspected, they also had trigger points and tender spots, most notably towards the knee.  When foam rolling, you will tend to find the most painful spots will be not in the middle of the muscle, but towards the ends: either the origins or the insertion points.  This is where the golgi tendon gets excited and gets “stuck” in contraction, causing the “knot”.  Foam rolling applies pressure to the middle of this knot, causing the golgi tendons to relax and the muscle to better reach its full range of motion.  This is why foam rolling is so important.

The rather technical description is as follows: Foam rolling is a self-myofascial release (SMR) technique that is used by athletes and physical therapists to inhibit overactive muscles. This form of stretching utilizes the concept of autogenic inhibition to improve soft tissue extensibility, thus relaxing the muscle and allowing the activation of the antagonist muscle. (Gossman MR, Sahrman SA, Rose SJ: Review of Length-Associated Changes in Muscle: Experimental Evidence and Clinical Implications. Phys. Ther. 62:1799–1808. 1982

The Stretches

Before attempting my jog this morning, I made sure to notice which muscles felt tight.  I already knew my hip flexors would need adequate stretching, glutes and hamstrings would need activation, but I moved around and noticed that my calves were rather tight as well.  So, this was my warm-up:

  • Static Ankle Stretch
  • Wall Ankle Mobility active stretches
  • Active TFL stretch (crossover toe touch)
  • External hip rotator stretch (put leg bent at 90 degree angle on railing and bent forward, then to side, letting hip musculature relax, then squeezing buttocks)
  • Standing warrior stretch (also known as active psoas stretch – stretches hip flexors, activates glutes)
  • Leg swings
  • Standing hip outside swings (like doing fire hydrants standing up)

I then set out walking, making sure to notice how my body felt: was I tight anywhere still?  Not noticing anything excessively tight, I leaned forward and began an easy jog.  I felt good!  I kept up this self-observation as I went, sometimes walking, sometimes jogging – not pushing myself too hard, being more focused on how my body felt and was reacting.  Normally when I stop jogging to walk, going back to jogging triggers pain, and being aware of this I kept in mind “I’m just getting back to this.  There is a time and a place to push yourself, right now is not it, you can build speed and endurance, today you will just observe and be proud”.  And I was.  There was no pain after I resumed running each time and I noticed that my cardiovascular endurance was much improved (most likely due to my boot camp class where I am constantly out of breath – and my regular cycling that has me huffing and puffing; no machine for me!), so it was hugely encouraging for me 1) to know that my lungs were ready to run and my cardiovascular system had improved, even without regular running and 2) mentally, I was there  and 3) that my body was starting to cooperate.

When I finished I cooled down by walking and repeating the above stretches with more focus on static stretching.  I feel good now, but will definitely foam roll a little later and make that a regular part of my routine while getting back into running.

But Back to Being Annoying

Even though I’m proud of myself for running (ok jogging) and not being in pain….I still don’t like it.  I won’t like it till it’s easy.  In face, I am considering taking up triathalon training for that very reason: because while I like cycling, I’ve got a long way to go and I’m not very good at the other two disciplines – so why not give them a go?  No idea how well I swim, but if it keeps me in shape well enough to pass my PT test every year without wearing myself out and making my muscle imbalances worse, then why not?

Speaking of muscle imbalances, if your hips or low back give you problems, I highly recommend checking out this article put out by Critical Bench: Lumbo-Pelvic Hip Imbalances.  He does an excellent job of explaining muscle imbalances and giving stretches to counter-act them.  What I REALLY like about this article is that he breaks the benefits of those stretches and corrected muscle imbalances down into disciplines.  Meaning, that if you’re a cyclist, power lifter or just a regular adult, you will have specific benefits from doing these exercises.  To quote him:


Runners (all levels – beginner to marathoner):

    • Improved mobility at the hip allows for better gait and stride efficiency
    • Decreased braking during transition of foot strike to push off
    • Increased stability at the ankle, knee, and hip
  • Decreased rate of injury throughout lower body


    • Improved activation of gluteus muscles providing for increased strength in pushing
    • Decrease in lower back pain or discomfort
  • Helps prevent chronic hip pain associated with high mileage over years of cycling

Adults (especially those with young kids):

    • Fewer aches and pains from picking up and putting down children
    • Improved lifting mechanics
  • Decreased chance of “throwing out your back”

Keying in on your Goals

Incorporating these stretches and resistance exercises into your fitness program will provide better movement through the hip complex with increased gluteus muscle activation, reduce the risk of injury, and help to decrease the amount of anterior pelvic tilt you may be experiencing.

This improved posture will allow you to come closer to all of your fitness goals, whether they be muscle endurance, size, strength, or power; injury prevention or rehabilitation; or decreases in lower back and hip discomfort.

I hope this article has been helpful for you – I would love to hear your comments!

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It’s a Wild Ride…

So life has been crazy, lately.  I know, I know, I was on a roll, posting a few new blog posts every week, and believe me, I have more than a few drafts in the works, but I just haven’t been able to get to them.  I could put something out just for the sake of generating content, but I don’t feel that serves much of a purpose.  I like to spend time on my articles; researching the content, searching for the right images and references and working to make it something I can stand behind.  So, I’m afraid you’ll just have to bear with me for awhile as life gets even more hectic for me in the next two weeks.

So What the Heck Have I Been Doing???

Well, let me lay it out in bullet point format…I like bullet points. :)

  • I travelled to Tennessee to spend two weeks with the Army National Guard Band.  We were engaged daily with the TN Arts Academy Conducting Symposium.  While there I got to play woodwind trios, organize the Army Band library (I’m in awe at the amount of music we have) and network.
  • I bought a road bike!  I’d like to introduce you to my new friend, Lexa:
    My new bike!
  • With a new bike comes a lot of work – learning how to ride, acquiring the proper gear, skills and logging miles.  I went on a 40 mile ride yesterday and while it was fun, it was humbling to be with a group of people who rode faster than me – I found out just how far fitness-wise I have to go!
  • I’ve been working like a mad-woman on my NFA  presentations I can’t believe it’s 2 weeks from now!!!  It’s crunch time now – getting all my presentation thoughts, handouts and ideas together.  I’ve also got the great news that I’ve been selected to participate in the NFA Career and Artistic Development Committee Mini-Conference, where I will be presenting Music Strong as my business and being mentored by great people in the flute world: Eva Amsler, Alberto Almaraz, Stephanie Jutt, Laura Barron,  and Jill Felber – so I’ve been getting those materials together, too.  In addition, I will hopefully be assisting Flute Specialists at their booth at NFA.  So it’s going to be a BUSY convention!  Oh, and did I mention my birthday is the 12th?  Right in the middle of the convention – not a bad present. :)
  • I’ve been promoting Music Strong like crazy and have gotten a lot of work done!  We now have T-shirts for sale!! You can order them on the Music Strong website .  I’ve also gotten new business cards, been sending out announcements for my NFA presentations, and I’ve launched the PC Beach Boot camp!  We’re having a great time so far and if you’re interested in coming, we welcome all age and ability levels – you can tailor the class to your needs and what you can do.  We meet every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 5:30 at the PC Beach Pier Public Access.  And speaking of promotion, you might find some “Groupon” type deals for me in the Panama City newspaper, soon – they’re launching something called “Deal of the Day” and I plan to be a part of it!  So be on the lookout for that!

Ok, are you tired reading all this?  I am! So to finish up, I’d just like to let you all know that I WILL be posting soon, and I fully intend to do a NFA recap.

In the meantime, I’d like to wax poetic about my bike for a minute.

Why do I like it?  This thought has come to me more than once while riding and that is, I like it for the challenge. The mental challenge.  More often than not it’s not the physical challenge that is what is a struggle, it’s that it’s a mental challenge.  When you ride on a stationary bike, you can get off any time.  You can cite any excuse you like just to get off and quit.  When you ride a bike in the great out doors, you log a lot of miles and suddenly, you are in the middle of nowhere with no choice but to ride back.  Sure, you can get off and quit, but no one will come pick you up, you’ll have walk back, and who wants to do that when you’ve got a perfectly good bike?

My boot camp class is the same way, in a way: you can “get off” and quit at any point.  But you won’t.  Why? Because you’re there with a lot of other people and THEY aren’t quitting, and you don’t want to be seen as a quitter, right?  So you end up going farther, going harder, pushing yourself beyond where you THOUGHT you could go and that makes you stronger and can boost your confidence in a way you didn’t think was possible.  With every class I get sore and then I get stronger, physically AND mentally, and so do my “campers”.  With every ride, I can go longer, my cardiovascular endurance increases and my mental toughness increases because no matter how far back it is, no matter how hard the wind is blowing in my face and making it a struggle to go forward – I don’t have a choice, I HAVE to keep going.  Besides the fact that the scenery changes, THAT is why I love bike riding (and boot camp class).
So I hope to see you all at my class on Tuesday.  It really is a fun experience and who doesn’t love that feeling of accomplishing more than you thought possible?

Panama City Beach Boot Camp Starting in July!

This is a clear west facing view of Panama Cit...

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I’ve been meaning to do this for awhile, and have finally been able to get things together. Currently, there is not a beach boot camp class in Panama City. Why, I cannot figure out, but that will soon be rectified.

We’ve got a start date of July 21st at 5:30 AM (yes, you read that right) and will be held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30-6:30 AM at the Public Beach Access Pier. Not Pier Park, the other pier. :)

Why this early?  Several reasons

  • You can get your workout done before the family gets up
  • You still have plenty of time to get ready for work
  • Mostly, because by 7 AM it’s already 90 degrees, so this will save us some heat exhaustion
  • You get to see the sunrise on the beach 2x a week!  You know you’ve been meaning to go

Wondering what we’re going to do?

HA!! You’ll have to wait and see. :)  But I CAN tell you it will be fun and motivational.  I’m planning on using a lot of exercises I personally did while at Army basic training, but this will be a little bit  more of a relaxed atmosphere.  There’s a lot of fear and myth surrounding Army boot camp – most with roots to it, however, there was nothing dangerous involved in the PT we did and will do on the beach.  And working out with others in a big group setting, yelling and sweating together and laughing is a lot of fun, all while achieving a HOT BODY!

Ok, Great!  I’m in!  What are the deatails?

Glad you asked.  You know the time and place, so now you need to know:

  1. Bring hydration of some sort (water bottle, camel back, Powerade, etc.)
  2. Bring a beach towel
  3. Bring $10 per class (unless you pay online first)
  4. Bring a positive attitude!

That’s it.  $10 a class.  All you have to do is show-up, and I’ll do the rest….haha, sort of.

How do I pay for this thing?

Very easily.  You have a few options.

  1. You can show up with $10 in hand.
  2. You can pay via the Button on the Facebook page
  3. You can email me to sign up (if the above button doesn’t work) and ask to be put on the mailing list to get special invitations, announcements and discounts, and I will send you the button.
  4. Soon, you’ll be able to pay online at my website.

So, are you ready?  Ready to try a real boot camp?  Ready to make a lot of fitness friends?  Ready to FINALLY take steps to get the body you really want to have?

Great, then I’ll see you on the beach!


Panama City Beach Bootcamp is a product of Personal Training.

Strength training counteracts muscular atrophy in old age « Human Kinetics Sport, Health & Fitness Blog

Strength training counteracts muscular atrophy in old age « Human Kinetics Sport, Health & Fitness Blog.

Good news! Another study has proven the positive results of strength training in older/elderly adults.  You are never to old to exercise!

If you would like to read the entire study, you may do so here.

Some interesting things to note from the study:

Effects of strength (resistance) training in elderly people

Clinical as well as epidemiological studies showed the effect of athletic activity on morbidity and mortality indicators in elderly people. Laboratory-based studies showed that 20 to 30 minutes of strength (resistance) training, 2 to 3 times per week, has positive effects on risk factors for cardiovascular disorders, cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis (69, e2). Furthermore, progressive strength (resistance) training is accepted in treating sarcopenia and to improve postural control (10).

The results of a recent Cochrane review including 121 randomized controlled trials (with some 6700 participants) showed that in most studies, strength (resistance) training is done 2 to 3 times per week. As a rule, this results in a notable increase in muscle strength, a moderate increase in the distance covered walking, a better performance for rising from a sitting position, and a subjectively higher mobility. Furthermore, increased stamina, an increased mitochondrial capacity, and a drop in the resting heart rate have been shown (6).

Physical activity can lead to an increase in, or reduction in the loss of, bone density, particularly in elderly postmenopausal women (7, e4). In low bone density, such effects on the spine as well as the hips have been shown (7). Adequate stimulation of osteogenesis and an increase in bone density can be achieved especially by means of very intense loading. However, results differ with regard to efficient dosage of training. Bemben et al. studied the effects of 8 months of maximum strength (resistance) training (3 times/week) and strength (resistance) training with additional whole-body vibration training on bone metabolism (among others, on alkaline phosphatase), bone density (DXA), and muscle force in postmenopausal women (11). They found greater muscle force in both intervention groups, but no differences regarding bone metabolism and bone density. Burke et al. found after a multimodal 8-week exercise program (balancing exercises and strength [resistance] training in postmenopausal women with confirmed osteoporosis) with high compliance rates an improvement of isometric muscle force in the ankle joint and knee joint muscles as well as balancing skills (12).

So, ladies, if you want to reduce or slow down your bone loss you have to

1) strength train

2) BE CONSISTANT, You can’t go once a week, or every couple of weeks, it’s 3 times a week, every week for 8 weeks MINIMUM.  This does not include the elliptical machine.

A current topic of discussion is whether or not the effects of strength (resistance) training also translate for elderly patients in different clinical groups (e5). Kingsley et al. observed after 12 weeks of strength (resistance) training in female patients with fibromyalgia an increase in strength and a reduction in symptoms (13). Mangione et al. studied the effect of 10 weeks of twice weekly, high-intensity, outpatient strength (resistance) training after a neck of femur fracture (14). One year after the fracture, the strength performance capacity, walking speed, the distance covered in 6 minutes’ walking, and the functional and medical results were statistically significantly better than in the control group. Similar results have been observed for patients with arthritis of the large joints of the leg (15, 16, e6). High-intensity strength (resistance) training seems therefore also useful and efficient in the treatment and after-treatment of selected symptoms in elderly patients.

The frequency of falls and injuries rises from the 5th decade of life. After the age of 65 years, 30% of people fall at least once a year (10). Orr postulates in the results of a systematic literature review a negative effect of insufficiency of muscle on postural control in elderly people, but causality should not be assumed as a given (10, e7). Daniels showed in this context that isolated strength (resistance) training is less effective for postural control than multimodal programs that include different components, such as balance, strength, flexibility, and stamina with mostly higher intensities. More recent studies have investigated whether sensorimotor training may be beneficial in addition to mere strength (resistance) training (1719). Alfieri et al. conducted multisensory training in persons of about 70 years of age for 12 weeks, which included optimizing the stability of posture, strength (resistance) training, sensorimotor training on uneven surfaces, and coordinating tasks (17). The results showed that multisensory training is superior to mere strength (resistance) training with regard to the variable of postural control. Extending strength (resistance) training by sensorimotor training, or adding this component, is therefore beneficial in elderly people.

My certifiying agency, the National Academy of Sports Medicine firmly believes in incorporating all these modalities into a training program: core training, balance/stability work, flexibility/stretching AND strength training. And that’s what you get when you get a training plan from me: a personalized training program incorporating all these different modalities that is tailored to fit your lifestyle and your needs.

The discussion about using strength (resistance) training in a beneficial manner is often linked with the debate of possible negative side effects and contraindications, especially when elderly patients are concerned. Diverse studies that we have already cited have shown, however, that the rate of side effects is very low if the dose is adapted to the patient. Liu and Latham have conducted a systematic literature search of the adverse effects of strength (resistance) training (20). Only 25% of included studies reported adverse effects. The most common ones were musculoskeletal problems after training. In some studies, such adverse effects resulted in the subject being excluded from the study, but no precise exclusion rates can be verified.

Again, another statement that confirms the benefits outweigh the detriments of strength training if the dose is adapted.

And. my absolute favorite quote of the article:

The view that at an advanced age, load bearing intensity should be reduced in order to avoid injuries and chronic overuse is widespread. However, this effect is not supported by current evidence, and several working groups have pointed out the need for higher intensities for elderly as well as young people.

AKA: You are never too old to start training!  You’re not too young, either, so what are you waiting for?   Contact me and let me help design a plan just for you!

Do What You Suck At

One of my mottos for awhile now has been “You are only as strong as your weakest link”.  This picture exemplifies the idea perfectly.  When I was in Army Basic Training, that was one of the things they told us almost constantly.  We had to do everything as a team, and if one person was wrong, you were all wrong.  If one person wanted to keep the Kevlar helmet on instead of taking it off, we all had to keep it on.  If one person got punished…well, that didn’t happen, we all got punished.

The point was that you HAD to learn to do everything as a unit, as a team, and that each person was as important as the next.  You are being taught to pay attention to detail and you realize very quickly that even if YOU excel in one area, your Battle Buddy probably doesn’t, and to work together as a team, everyone has to come together to support and encourage and work on their “weakest link” before you can excel as a team.

Your body works as a team as well and if you don’t address your weakest link, you are shortchanging yourself.  As a musician, you know that if you don’t work on your weak spots, you’ll never reach your full potential because being a musician is made of several “links” – scales, intervals, tone, technique, body awareness, attitude, work ethic, etc.

As for my title…

You’ll have to pardon the hanging participle and bad grammar….but it got your attention, didn’t it?

Here’s the point if you do what you’re good at, you’ll never get any better.  Makes sense, doesn’t it?  Sure, but what do we do?  We do the things at which we already accel.  Why?  Because we like doing well, we like feeling that good feeling that comes with doing well, and when you do something well, it’s, well…..easy.

Another way to say “do what you suck at” is to say “work on your weaknesses”.  Now, honestly if I had put that as the title, you wouldn’t have stopped by to read, would you?   Not nearly as interesting.  But the truth is there in both statements.  When you take a good look at the areas in which you lack and you go forth and WORK on those weaknesses what happens?

Well, it’s hard.
It’s generally not much fun.
You might fail
….a lot.
But in the end, you end up succeeding and ultimately not only gaining a greater sense of achievement due to the feeling of overcoming something at which you used to not do well, but it gets easier from there for you to get better at it.

Two examples: music and fitness, of course :)


Take your pick: squat, pushup or pullup.

Sure, there are other hard exercises like deadlifting and benching and rowing but in all honesty, these are tough for me and most women.  Most people do a HORRIBLE job of squatting with good form.  They either

  • don’t go low enough
  • elevate their heels and squat on their toes
  • have their knees cave in
  • point their toes way out

It’s sad really, because what should be easy to do (we did it as 2-year olds without another thought) becomes so much more difficult as we age.

Side note:
This is why I suggest EVERYONE get some training in Alexander Technique.  It’s not just for musicians and you will relearn how to use your body the way God intended and the way you used to, as aforementioned 2-year old but with better motor skills :)

Walk into almost any gym in the country and undoubtedly you will see a lot of the same things: the treadmills, ellipticals and bikes will be mostly full (sadly, mostly with women), lots of people using machines, and in the free weight section, the few people you see will be mostly men, mostly doing chest and bicep exercises.  Occassionally you’ll see a man doing a squat….probably only going half-way down with too much weight (because it’s always better to improve your ego by using too much weight with bad form than to use no weight with good form, right?) and even more rarely, you’ll see a lady in there, doing “toning” exercises with the pink dumbbells.  She’s doing it because she knows she needs to do something but isn’t sure what, so she sticks to what’s safe, what isn’t challenging, and pats herself on the back for venturing into the “guy’s” part of the gym. And year after year the ladies on the treadmills wonder why their bodies haven’t changed the way they “should”.

The guys do their same routines for the same reason: they work the vanity muscles using some outdated routines they found in magazines (that really only work for newbies) because they don’t know any better, it’s safe, it’s what the other guys are doing and hey, what woman looks at a guy’s legs – they look at his GUNS right?   And year after year, he does the same stuff, blindly going forward, his gains decreasing every year and wondering why.

I’ll tell you why.  It’s because they don’t work on their weaknesses.


Where is your weakness when it comes to music?  Ignoring etudes, scales and technique exercises – only focusing on working on pieces?  Not really “wood shedding” the music, but just playing it over and over again?  Putting off memorizing something?  Not practicing much at all?

As a musician, my biggest weakness is 1) not making the time to practice and 2) not giving myself structure during practice time….which leads to feeling like I”m just wasting my time, so I end up not practicing at all!  If you are one of those musicians  who has been out of school for awhile, you know how easy it is to get out of the habit of daily practice, espcially when you aren’t surrounded by other musicians pushing you, endless rehearsals and recitals.  If LACK of practice is your nemesis, ask yourself why?  And chunk it into manageable goals: 1) I will  practice every day or every other day 2) I will work on these pieces and these exercises, etc.  Just write it down and give yourself structure.

If there is something specific you suck at and you’re just avoiding it, it’s time to take the bull by the horns and go after it!  If you are a person who plays by ear and has a difficult time deciphering rythms on the page…..well, you need to start reading more music with difficult rhythms.  If you suck at sightreading, the only way to get better at sightreading is to sightread a LOT.

See how this works?  Identify your weakness, have the courage to put your ego aside and say “ok, what do I really suck at?” and then do THAT.

Take your dreaded evil and look it square in the face and say

“Today , it’s you and me and while I may not conquer you today, maybe not tomorrow, I will not fear you, and I WILL do this”.


And from there, you start with Moyse Gamme Arpegge and work your way through :)


So Do What You Suck At

If you are a gym “bro” who splits his workouts into “chest days’ and “arm days”: have the courage to do a full body workout,

If you are a lady who does nothing but stay on the elliptical or do curls and crunches in the “guy’s part of the gym”, have the courage to pick up some 20 pounders or hire a personal trainer and learn how to do a real deadlift…I can tell you, there’s nothing more empowering than deadlifting your bodyweight (with excellent form) in a gym full of men who are doing superflous exercises (with bad form).

If you are a musician and you’ve been putting off attacking Berio’s “Sequenza” GO FOR IT!  You just might find that it’s way more fun than you ever realized.


In the end, we all have to work on our weaknesses, because there is only so far you can go in the areas you already excel.

Exercise: It’s Not A Cure-All

I am passionate about fitness, about exercise and most of all about strength training. I believe in the power of strength training, the benefits it provides and the help it can offer to people. I have seen with my own eyes the empowerment it can give people, how it can change minds, change attitudes, outlooks and even lives.

That beings said, even with all its benefits when performed and progressed properly…

It is not a cure-all.

In my posts, sometimes I get so caught up in talking about training, in how much I love it, and how I know it can help most people, I forget that my audience is not entirely made up of people my age to middle age with no contraindications. That my audience is also targeted at musicians who are in pain, whether from playing their instruments or otherwise, are elderly, have different injuries or conditions which I cannot foresee nor am I liscensed to be able to diagnose.

So let me just say this: while I believe STRONGLY in the power of strength training, if you have any kind of pain, you should not try to self-diagnose yourself and you should seek the help of a qualified medical professional.

My posts are enthusiastic and passionate because I want to educate the musician population about:

  1. their own human anatomy
  2. correcting their body map
  3. how their bodies work to play their instruments
  4. POSSIBLE causes of pain
  5. POSSIBLE stretches and strengthening exercises that may help
  6. the MYTHS surrounding weight training and why musicians especially SHOULD be doing it, perhaps more than other people should.

My posts are not meant to serve to self-diagnose or infer that if you have pain, if you just do some of these strength training exercises, hire a personal trainer or learn how to stretch properly that everything will be better.  In some cases, this may be true, but in some cases, the situations may be more complex than this, which is why you should NEVER self diagnose.  After reading my post on Shoulder Pain you should come away with a broader understanding of your anatomy, and you may also have a better idea of where or even why your pain is where it is, but you should not assume so.  It may be that you know where you feel pain, but the source of your pain is somewhere else (called pain referral) and you trying to self-diagnose ends up hurting you rather than helping you.  Take your new-found knowledge to a medical professional: I listed several at the bottom of that post.

If you have pain, you should see:

  • A general practitioner
  • A physical therapist
  • A massage therapist
  • An ART doc

to name a few.  I seek to give my readers knowledge about how their bodies work and to erradicate the fear that some of them may have about how weight training is something musicians should stay away from.


So, if you have seen the doc or PT about your problems, it has been diagnosed and you’ve gotten the go-ahead that weight training would not hurt you, by all means, hire a personal trainer to set up a personalized program for you to help you reach your goals and strengthen your body. When I get  a new client, one of the first things I do is collect information from them including any kind of medical history that may be detrimental to their training and make sure they have an OK from the doc if there are any contraindications.  Any personal trainer you hire should do the same.

So, bear that in mind when reading my posts.  Strength training offers a host of positive benefits that usually far out weigh the negatives, and if the only thing holding you back from the gym is fear (and not disease), then go ahead and conquer that fear.

How to Make Your Own Greek Yogurt

If you are like me, you’ve discovered the delicousness that is Greek yogurt.

You’ve also discovered the sticker shock that comes with it.

$4 for a PINT???  It’s about the same as a pint of raspberries.  Neither of which price I understand.  Until I can grow my own berry bushes, I will settle for making my own yogurt. It is RIDICULOUSLY easy.  I was told it was not good to do with skim milk – BALDERDASH!  That’s the only kind I make and it’s delicious.

All you need is:

  • milk
  • time
  • something to use to strain – like a dish towel
  • a thermometer
  • an oven or crockpot
  • minimum of 2 TB yogurt

There are a lot of videos out there, but you really don’t need to use one.  Just use this recipe and have some time to fiddle in the kitchen and you’re golden.

Greek Yogurt

Pour milk into a saucepan….or a giant pot.  Depending on how much milk you use determines how big the pot. :)  Turn heat on low and insert a thermometer.  Heat milk until it reaches 175-180ish degrees, stirring somewhat constantly. I say somewhat because you don’t have to stir it all the time, but if you leave it for too long, it will burn on the bottom and ruin the batch.

Once the milk reaches temperature, let it cool to 110 degrees.  Once cool, add a ladleful (or whatever) of the warm milk to the yogurt – stir with a whisk until incorporated.  Once done, dump back into the milk.   If you would like to add flavorings this would be the time to do so.  Take your milk still in the pot, and put it into the oven with the light on.  Leave for 12 hours.  Keep the thermometer in, because you do not want it to go below 100 degrees.  You can also be creative with this – put it in a crockpot surrounded by towels, or an ice chest, etc. as long as it stays warm.  “cooking” time can vary anywhere from 6-14 hours.  I use a solid 12 for mine.  Warm it up, throw in the oven, leave for the day.

2nd step: Straining.

Take your yogurt out of the oven.    You now have conventional yogurt with no additives or extra sugars!  To make it Greek, you have to strain it.

Take a colander and put it inside a large pot, so it fits inside. Line this with a dishtowel (one that hasn’t been treated with fabric softener).  Dump the yogurt in.  Put it in the fridge for another 12 hours.  The longer it drains, the thicker it gets.  After 12 hours or so the whey will have drained.  If you don’t have a use for it, pour it out.

BAM!  Greek yogurt!

If you’re looking for macros, I use the macros on Fage 0%, I figure it’s the same.

If you still want a video, this is how I learned:

I think what I’m going to do with my latest batch is throw it in the freezer and make “frozen yogurt”!

The Flutists’ Pain Points


Ask almost any flutist that has pain brought on by playing, and odds are they will mention one of these sites as giving them trouble: wrist, upper back (between shoulder blades), shoulder area or lower back. Sometimes the problem is that the pain is in ALL of these sites.

Studies have been done, but the results are inconclusive as to the results of what causes pain. A study I read recently studied the “History of Playing-related Pain in 330 University Freshman Music Students”. The interesting point is that MOST of the students had pain brought on by playing. The frustrating point was that the study was inconclusive as to the cause of the pain.

I have my own hypothesis, however, because this study did not cover my area of expertise: strength training. This is what the study found:

  • More students did than did not exercise, but pain occurred in 79% of the exercisers and in only 76% of the sedentary. Data were collected though not analyzed regarding exercise type; jogging appeared to be a favorite, as was the use of a variety of exercise machines
  • Most of the pain problems reported by instrumentalists are associated with the musculoskeletal system
  • Several factors have played into the lack of regular exercise for musicians. First, those who start their instruments early in life…often have been warned of the potential injury that might befall especially their hands and fingers by participation in athletics. This avoidance behavior becomes habit as they grow older.
  • There apppears to be an association between poor conditioning and musculoskeletal complaints, and vice versa; those who do have a regular exercise routine appear more resilient.
  • When asked about “regular exercise” …our definition for inclusion here was exercise of at least two times per week for a minimum of 30 minutes. We did not differentiate between exercise modes, but just from casual scanning of the data, jogging was by far the most frequent activity, followed by some kind of machine and/or light weights and biking. A minority did heavy resistance weight training, swimming, soccer and/or basketball.

It is GLARINGLY obvious to me what could possibly be the cause of so many musician’s pain, here, but this was not covered by the researchers.

  1. The type of stretching done, is probably out-dated, static stretching, which has been shown to be more detrimental than helpful
  2. Jogging is a favorite activity….this does NOTHING to help weak muscles. If you play an instrument held in front of your body (aren’t they all?) then your body is forced to compensate after the primary muscles holding up the instrument fatigue. Thus leading to pain.
  3. The MINORITY did heavy resistance training and soccer, swimming and basketball – sports that require a high degree of movement.

Can you see the pattern here?

So getting back to the flutists’ pain points

What are the points of chief complaint?  From what I have heard (though if you have another spot, please leave a comment below!) these are the most common

  • wrist
  • upper back
  • shoulder
  • lower back

With the exception of the wrist, the other three points are located on what we call the “posterior chain”  This is the back half of the body, responsible for a lot of pulling movements and fighting against the pushing movement of the front of the body, including keeping the body upright.  If your posterior chain muscles are weak, it causes them to stretch.


You sit all day, in rehearsals, driving, typing, practicing.  You probably slouch, meaning your chest comes forward, your abdomen caves in and your back rounds.  You are not balanced on your sit bones.  Your shoulders round forward.  Your head protrudes.

What does this lead to?

Try taking that posture for awhile and I bet the answer will be:

  • my neck hurts
  • my upper back hurts
  • my hips hurt
  • basically, everything on the back half of my body HURTS!

Can you see how this  posture, practiced day in and day out is compounded with holding a heavy instrument (or maybe your instrument isn’t heavy but after several hours of playing it becomes heavy to you) can wreak havoc on your body?


The part you’ve been waiting for!  You can see where the problem lies, by now, I hope.  Weak posterior chain can equal pain.  What to do?  Strengthen it!  Let’s take this on a spot by spot basis.



If your wrist hurts, there can be several causes, some of which may not have anything to do with your wrist, but  may actually be a symptom of poor upper body posture, shoulder position, etc.  Assuming you play an instrument that puts your wrist in somewhat of a contorted position (flute, guitar, violin, etc.) there are some stretches you can do.  Hold each for a count of 10, and follow with movement.  It is very important that after you do a static stretch (a stretch you hold without moving) that you follow that with a dynamic stretch (a stretch that involves movement).


These are stretches and of course there are exercises you can do to increase your wrist/grip strength.  However, I’m not sure that that is necessary, as my guess is that the reason the wrists hurt has more to do with being tight and needing to be stretched due to being in an awkward position for long lengths of time, rather than being weak.  However, grip strength is important when it comes to lifting weights.  Diesel Crew has a lot of information on improving grip strength.


Upper Back/Shoulder

This area could take all day to address, and I have in two posts and a guest post by Dr. Perry.  For detailed information see Shoulder Pain Part 1, Shoulder Pain Part 2 – What to Do About it, and Dr. Perry’s Post: Shoulder Pain Secret.

The chief culprits of pain are the rhomboids (the muscles in between your shoulder blades that work to pull them together), lower traps (pull shoulder blades back and down) and rotator cuff muscles.  When you lean forward with a rounded posture, or have your arms extended in front of you for a long time, these muscles that do the pulling in your upper back get stretched the opposite way and get kinda angry about it.  They are designed to pull the shoulder blades back, but if you do not strengthen these muscles, if they do not get used the way they were intended.  You get pain.

I think this is the biggest problem area among musicians and the most overlooked!

Strengthen your rhomboids and upper back by doing pulling movements and see if your pain doesn’t improve, not to mention your posture!

My favorite exercises are:

Lat Pulldowns/Pull ups, any type of rows (inverted, seated, barbell or dumbbell) and exercises for the rotator cuff: soup can pours, prone lower trap raises and wall slides.  You can see all three of the rotator cuff exercises in Shoulder Pain Part 2.

Before doing any of these exercises, however, it’s not a bad idea to stretch the muscles that are tight, before strengthening the muscles that are weak. That’s another post for another day. :)

Lat pull downs/Pull ups.

     Good form                       BAD FORM!!!

(Coaching cues – keep spine neutral – curve in lower back, no leaning backwards, and bring shoulder blades down)

The big thing to remember here is to that before and DURING the movement, is to let your shoulder blades go through their full range of motion and lead the motion with pulling them back and down.


That means that when your arms are as far away from you as they can be, let your shoulder blades float outward to the side of your body and when you go to pull the bar down think of squeezing the bottom of your shoulder blades together first to bring your blades down, and then your elbows and arms follow to complete the movement.  This may cause you to not use as much weight as you would like, but so what?  If you use more weight than you can with good form, what are you really accomplishing?  THAT’S where you get into more pain and injury.  If you see someone swinging back and forth and flinging the weight up and down (or YOU are that person) then you know you are asking for injury and are performing the movement incorrectly.

Don’t waste your time.  Take your ego out of it (and don’t pay attention to the people around you – most people in the gym perform exercises with incorrect form, so don’t take your cues from them) and discover what weight you can lift correctly.  You will reap benefits much faster!

Inverted Row

Coaching cues: keep body “straight”, brace your abs and squeeze your butt, bring shoulder blades back and down and let your arms follow. Think of leading the motion by squeezing your shoulder blades together first, not that it’s an arm movement.

Coaching cues: sit tall, brace lower abs and pull belly button in towards spine, pull shoulder blades back, down and together, keep neutral arch in back, do NOT round your back when reaching for weight or pulling forward.  Let your shoulder blades “float” to the outside of your body when letting the weight go back.

Lower Back

If your lower back hurts, ask yourself how much you sit.  If the answer is “a lot”, you may have found your problem.  When you sit, your hips “flex”, this means that the knees come towards the body by means of the hip flexors   The hip flexors are pictured here and I know the Alexander Technique teachers will jump all over the psoas, as they should! That’s where I first found out about this very important muscle.  You can see how it attaches to your leg AND your low back. When you sit, this muscle flexes, or shortens, which (especially if your abs are too strong – aka, don’t do situps or crunches!!!!) causes you to bend forward, this muscle pulls on your low back.  The muscles on your low back (Quadratus Lumborum and spinal erectors, etc.) get stretched, just like the upper back muscles.


Stretch the tight muscles, strengthen the weak muscles.  In this case, stretch the hip flexors, strengthen the low back muscles  and muscles of the core.  The CORE is actually made up of your entire torso and if you want an EXCELLENT book on strengthening the core in the non-traditional way (there is not a single “ab” exercise in this book!) I HIGHLY recommend getting New Rules of Lifting for Abs. 

I’m just finishing up this book myself and not only has it improved my posture, it has improved my balance, core strength and overall body strength.  I can lift heavier weights than I have in a long time and I have better posterior chain activation as well!

There are WAY too many exercises to list here for strengthening the core and lower back, and in fact, if you want more information on that, I cannot recommend anything here safely, which is why I recommend hiring a personal trainer to help you do these exercises, because done incorrectly you can cause more pain or even injury to yourself.

As for stretching the hip flexors, I have some great ones.

You can do this standing as well.  Make sure when you do this stretch, you lean backwards with your torso until you feel a stretch in the front of your hip and SQUEEZE your put on the stretched side.  When you stretch the hip flexor, you want to activate the opposing posterior chain muscle, in this case, the glutes.

This exercise is one you can do during rehearsals, while typing, or while lying down.  It will stretch your piriformis muscle (the angry little muscle in your butt that gets stretched out when you sit for too long).  I recommend doing this lying down: take the chair out of the picture and put the person on his back.  Grab the vertical leg and pull it towards the chest.  The horizontal leg (the one that is bent across the other) will feel a stretch in that glute and hip.


A good stretch for the psoas is this stretch:

Lie on the edge of a bed, bench or table and pull one leg towards your chest.  The other leg should dangle off the edge of the table.  DO NOT do this exercise if your doctor has told you not to or you have major back pain.  Check with your doctor first if you have concerns.  When doing this stretch, you should feel a deep pulling feeling in your abdomen, that is difficult to identify.  This is your psoas.  Hold for a count of 20-30, and switch sides.

You can also do this on the floor to test for hip tightness.  Lie flat on the floor just like in this picture.  If your lower back comes off the floor and rounds, it can be a sign of hip flexor tightness.

What are some exercises I need to NOT do?

As you can see in this post, training the posterior chain is of utmost importance.  Therefore, training the frontal chain, is not as important.  If you have muscular imbalances, you do not want to add any more strength to those muscles.  The opposite of the muscles covered in this post would be: chest, quads, biceps.

Exercises I do not recommend if you are in pain:

Chest presses, bench presses, cable flyes (basically any chest pushing exercise), crunches, situps, any kind of oblique twisting ab exercise,  leg extension machine.

Other GOOD exercises to include would be exercises that train the entire body:

  • Pushups
  • Deadlifts
  • Squats
  • Rows

Make sure you perform these exercises with permission from your doctor and under the supervision of a properly certified personal trainer.  If you have any kind of health condition, check with your doctor first.

High Protein Recipe – Quiche!

A couple of months ago I drove back to Tennessee for a drill weekend with the National Guard.

After my 8 hour drive I arrived at my parent’s house and smelled something absolutely marvelous cooking.  Asking “what’s for dinner”?  just like I was a kid back at home again, mom answered “quiche”.

A quick primer on my family: mom is a foodie and has passed that love of cooking and quality ingredients on to my brother and I.  From her side of the family also came the intense interest in health and fitness (my uncle is a cycling coach to US Cycling Team members and was a NASM-CPT back in the day; mom is really into alternative therapies, and my brother, well, he’s a weighlifting fool!  He got stuck on the DC 5×5 routine for years- let’s just say he and I are cut from the same cloth and he’s as dedicated as I am to lifting and health).

That being said, I knew I was in for a treat.

It. Was. Delicious!

I HAD to get the recipe from her which was this:

6 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup cheese (swiss)
leftover ham
salt to taste
a dash of nutmeg
cook in oven at 350 for 50 minutes.

Needless to say, when I got home I HAD to make it.  Hubby was delighted with the results and I made it again tonight.  In fact, when I was in Tennessee last week I made it again!

The beautiful thing about quiche is that you can make it using whatever you have on hand.  My favorite way to think of flavorings is think of what cheese goes well on sandwiches: ham and swiss, turkey and cheddar, etc.  Really, the choice is up to you with whatever you have in the house.

I made mine higher in protein and lower in fat than my mom’s.  1st time around I kept everything the same, save I used 6 egg whites and 2 whole eggs. YUM! Now, I know a lot of quiches have crusts (basically a pie crust) and if you’re looking for extra calories, be my guest.  But as for me, I just wanted the protein, so crustless it is!

(by the way, I did not take a picture, this is for representative purposes only)

Tonight, this was the recipe:

High Protein Crustless Turkey Quiche

Spinach, onions, bacon, mozzarella.

Image via Wikipedia

12 egg whites
2 whole eggs
1 cup skim milk
sauteed onions, peppers, mushrooms
1 cup fat free cheddar cheese
1 lb. lean ground turkey breast

Brown and drain turkey breast.  Meanwhile, saute veggies.  Mix together eggs, milk and cheese.  Add turkey and veggies to egg mixture.  Pour into a pie plate coated with cooking spray. Bake for 1 hour at 350.

Macros for 1/4 quiche:
333 calories   6g fat  9g carbs  59g protein

Not bad!

Needless to say you can add whatever you want, especially more veggies but this is what I had.  Enjoy!

Blogs to check out: strong ladies « The fitness industry’s copywriter

Blogs to check out: strong ladies « The fitness industry’s copywriter.

After writing the blog post yesterday about busting the women’s bulky myth  I came across this blog post giving a list of blogs of ladies who aren’t afraid to lift heavy.

Looking for some more inspirational women?   Here’s the list, but check out the above blog post for more great information from The Fit Writer

Elsbeth Vaino
Molly Galbraith
Marianne Kane
Rachel Guy
Nia Shanks
Jen Grasso
Neghar Fonooni
Jen Comas Keck
Cassandra Forsythe
Kellie Davis