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Your Top 5 Diet Obstacles & Frustrations – Overcome

10 May

Whether you’re just getting started with your fat loss program – or you’re working out consistently, but frustrated with your lack of results – know this:  It’s your diet that will, without a doubt, make or break your fat loss efforts.

Eating healthy on a consistent basis is tough!  There’s no doubt about it.  And people seem to encounter many of the same dietary obstacles and frustrations in their dieting efforts.  So here’s my best effort at solving your top five diet problems:

Your Top 5 Diet Obstacles & Frustrations – Overcome

1) Lack of food prep/planning due to stress/laziness/etc.

Most folks don’t plan ahead properly, and as a result, end up making bad food choices.

For example, let’s say you’re away from home on a typical work day for 10 hours. If you’re trying to stick to a healthy eating plan, you had better be bringing some food with you and knowing exactly what you’re going to eat over the course of the day. Otherwise you’ll be stuck grabbing something from the vending machine or going out and grabbing a burger for lunch.

The other issue folks seem to run into with this one is not wanting to deal with preparing food due to stress/laziness/etc.  The best solution I’ve personally come up with here is to prepare food in batches for several days at a time.  For example, you might cook five or six chicken breasts and a large pot of brown rice, and then portion out five meals and put them in containers to eat over the next two or three days.

2) Portion control

This one generally comes down to one of two things:

  1. You eat too much
  2. You don’t know what proper portion size actually is

The solution to both of these is to weigh and measure your food. Even if for a short period of time, it’s an invaluable – and necessary – exercise to make sure you’re eating the proper portion sizes.

Most people have no idea what three oz. of chicken breast or 1/2 cup of rice actually looks like.  But after you weigh and measure everything you eat for a week, you will.

3) Lack of discipline

Here’s where you too easily give in to cravings.  Or you’re just undisciplined in general with eating healthy foods.

What’s always helped me personally the most with this one – as has with my most successful clients – is having clearly defined goals.  If you just set a goal of “losing weight”, it’s not really specific enough.  But if your goal is to “lose 15 pounds and 6% body fat before your vacation to Hawaii in 8 weeks”, it adds a whole new element of focus and drive to your efforts.

4) Busy schedule/stress

A LOT of people have busy schedules. And a lot of people are stressed out. I know it’s a tough pill to swallow – but consider these two points:

  • Someone busier than you is working out right now
  • Someone busier than you eats better and cleaner than you do every day

It’s possible to eat right and you know it.  Stop making excuses and just get it done!! :)

5) Alcohol

Here’s another tricky one.  My best tip for here is not to necessarily eliminate, but to moderate.

One 5 oz. glass of wine isn’t really a problem – you’re talking maybe 100 or 150 calories.  On the other hand, two 7 oz. glasses and you’re getting close to 500 calories total – which can lead to some pretty significant weight gain if you do it on a consistent basis.

SO – there you have my best crack at addressing your top 5 diet obstacles and frustrations. I hope you enjoyed this article and that it’s a help to you reaching your ultimate fat loss goals!

To your success –

Forest Vance
Certified Fitness Nutrition Coach

PS –If you are looking for more diet information, go to this Sacramento Nutritionist’s website at


Best Kettlebell Challenge Workouts

10 May

You’ll LOVE these kettlebell challenge workouts

You’ve got an EPIC kettlebell session planned for the day and want to make sure you’re feeling great and firing on all cylinders … here’s the pre-workout scene:

It’s two hours ’till kettlebell time.  You have your standard pre-workout meal with just the right balance of protein and carbs.  Time to start getting your mind right for the workout ahead …

Finish up work for the day and KB time’s almost here.  You slam down your pre-workout supplement mix, change clothes and head to the training center …

Walk in the door, throw on your favorite workout tunes and you’re ready to rock.  You get a PERFECT warm-up, including some foam rolling, joint mobility, and dynamic stretching … and it’s time for the main event!

Now you’re fired up and ready to hit your best kettlebell challenge workout ever!  I do workouts like these every month at my Sacramento kettlebell gym, and they’re hard to beat for shocking the body and building mental toughness.  Give one (or all) of the workouts below a go and kick your results into overdrive:

Kettlebell Challenge Workouts

      1. This challenge has four circuits with five exercises each.  There should be no rest between the exercises and your goal is to do each circuit in less than three minutes.
      1. This is a 500 rep challenge with ten exercises, fifty reps each, with as little rest as possible between the exercises.  You are not allowed to move onto the next exercise until you have completed fifty reps.
      2. (Challenge 2, same creator)
        1. This is a 500 rep challenge with ten exercises, fifty reps per exercise.  Just as Marianne demonstrates in her other challenge, you must complete all fifty reps prior to moving onto the next exercise.
      1. With 300 reps total, this challenge incorporates everything from swings to halos.  In order to see your progress, you should do this challenge every month or so and attempt to beat your initial time.
      1. This challenge has a great (and difficult) kettlebell warm-up to lead you into a 300 rep challenge.  You are trying to shoot for a low time with the challenge so the key is speed and proper form.
      2.  Here is a sample video demonstrating the exercises above.  Instead of squat thrusts, it includes the full on burpee.  You may choose to modify with the squat thrust, or do a complete burpee.
      1. This challenge incorporates cleans, jerks, and snatches.  You are going for time with five reps on each side.

The kettlebell challenge workouts in this article are a great starting point for keeping your current kettlebell routine fresh and testing your mental toughness.  Thanks for reading, train hard and talk soon –

Forest Vance
Level II Certified Russian Kettlebell Challenge Instructor

PS – For more kettlebell routines like these, check out

How To Do More Push Ups – 5 Tips

25 Apr

Whether you have a specific reason for doing more push ups, or you’re just going for increased workout efficiency/ultimate bragging rights, I think you’ll get a lot out of this article.  Enjoy!

How To Do More Push Ups – 5 Tips

1. Do LOTS of push ups

The principle of Specificity implies that to get better at a specific exercise or skill, you must perform that exercise or skill.  This is the skill-based component of exercise – the more of a specific movement you do, the better you get at it.  You could liken it to swinging a golf club or throwing a ball.

With this is mind, you also need to program your workouts properly, get proper recovery time, etc. That’s why it’s so important to follow a logically and soundly designed program -and not take the ‘shotgun approach’ (you can read more about that concept here).

2. DON’T train to failure

If you’re trying to up your push up numbers by going all-out and doing as many push ups as you can at every workout, stop!

Among other things, when you train to failure, you put a tremendous stress on the central nervous system.  The nervous system takes much longer to recover than your muscles do – and it ends up being impossible to train with enough frequency to make push up number gains.

Every once in a while, you CAN go all-out – but you have to be very careful. PUSH yourself  hard (no pun intended :) ), but leave one or two reps in the bank 90% of the time.

3. Use perfect form

It drives me CRAZY when I see folks doing push ups with a partial range of motion, with a ‘chicken neck’, with a soft core and collapsing hips, etc.  They’re not only increasing the likelyhood of injury and perpetuating muscle imbalances, they’re not doing anything to get truly better at push ups …

4. Use the appropriate progression(s)

If you can’t do a legit from-the-feet push up, it’s all good – accept it and work on progressions that work up to it.  Just PLEASE don’t do 1/4 reps and claim you’re doing full push ups :)

Here’s an example of a basic progression for your push ups, moving in the direction of easy to hard (I cover this in much more detail in the No Gym? No Excuse! Body Weight Strength Manual):

  • knee push up
  • regular push up
  • feet elevated push up
  • lever/shifting push up

5. Use a progressive, periodized routine

Again, it’s critically important that you don’t just go out and do whatever you feel like for the day for your workouts.  You want to systematically increase the total number of push ups you do with each workout until you reach your push up goals.

Let’s say you can currently do 20 standard push ups non-stop, and your goal is to work up to 50.  Here’s a simple push up ladder that illustrates this concept of systematic progression:

  • week 1 – Do 10 push ups.  Rest as long as the set took you to complete.  Do 9 push ups.  Continue in this fashion all the way down to 1.
  • week 2 – Same ladder routine, starting at 11.
  • week 3 – Same ladder routine, starting at 12.
  • week 4 – Same ladder routine, starting at 13.
  • week 5 – Same ladder routine, starting at 14.
  • week 6 – Same ladder routine, starting at 15.

If you feel like you still have ‘gas in the tank’ after one of these workouts, you can also work your way back up the ladder.  I would do this workout 3-5 times per week.

In summary, push ups are a fantastic body weight exercise.  I’ve written lots about them on this site, but today’s article specifically addresses how to do more.  I hope it’s a great starting point to get you going!

– Forest

P.S. Check out this Kettlebell Blog for more tips and exercises at


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4 Nov

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