FitITproNews: Upper body push/pull

Editor’s Corner

In this month’s issue of FitITproNews your Editor the Recovering Fat IT Pro talks about strengthening your upper body through various pushing and pulling exercises. Also in this issue are these articles by our FitITproNews columnists:

  • Robin Camp: Fitness and Body Image
  • Rod Trent: PSA: Learning to Shut up When Any Something is Just Enough
  • Mark Nichols: The Vegan (WFPB) starter
  • Kris Lall: Vitruvian IT Pro
  • Brian Dougal: Keeping my goals at the forefront of my daily activity
  • Kris Kane: Healthy Body, Healthy Mind!
  • Lana Khazari: FEEL, EAT, GAIN, REPEAT: How to break the negative cycle
  • Jimmy Vo (NEW!): Outfitting a home gym

Don’t forget, if you have any comments or suggestions concerning the stuff in this week’s newsletter, email me at [email protected] and we’ll share your feedback in the Mailbag section of our next newsletter. And if you’re an IT professional who is also pursuing fitness or has had success in losing weight and you’d like to become one of our columnists you can reach out to me at [email protected].

In the meantime enjoy this week’s issue of FitITproNews!

Mitch Tulloch, Senior Editor


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Disclaimer: I am not a certified fitness professional or nutritionist so take any suggestions made here “as is” with a grain of salt and a heaping supply of your own judgment. Please read our full disclaimer at the bottom of this newsletter.

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Got feedback about anything in this issue of FitITproNews? Email us at [email protected] today!


Strengthening your upper body (Mitch Tulloch)

Mitch Tulloch is the Senior Editor of FitITproNews and a recovering fat IT pro who lost 50 lbs in midlife and is now on his way to becoming a fit IT pro. Mitch is a widely recognized expert on Windows Server and cloud technologies who has authored or been Series Editor of numerous books/ebooks from Microsoft Press. Mitch is also the Senior Editor of WServerNews and writes frequently for TechGenix.

In last month’s newsletter I talked about strengthening the posterior chain, the set of muscles in your legs, hips and lower back. I talked about the importance of having a strong posterior chain for all kinds of sports and other activities, and I outlined some exercises you can do using barbells, dumbbells, and other equipment to strengthen your posterior chain muscles.

But it’s also important of course to build strength in your upper body. For while your posterior chain is key to generating force and power in many sports, the actual delivery of that force or power is usually through your upper body. This means that you should complement your lower body training with upper body exercises that work the various muscles in your arms, shoulders, upper back and chest.

Push exercises

Pushing motions play an important role in many sports such as boxing, MMA, or protecting your quarterback from being tackled in American football. Pushing strength is also important if you need go get your car out of a snowbank in the wintertime. While the barbell bench press is the king of all pushing exercises, you can build a lot of upper body strength with simple bodyweight pushing exercises like various forms of pushups:

14 Types of Push-Ups — and How They Help You (Outside Magazine)

You can also do dumbbell presses laying on the floor if you don’t have a barbell or a bench. And doing overhead triceps extensions with dumbbells can also help you strength arm muscles used in pushing activities, and dips performed using a bench or chair are also very good in this regard.

Pull exercises

I like doing bent-over barbell rows as one of my primary pushing exercises. This exercise can greatly strengthen your upper back and lats. It can also be a dangerous exercise however if you don’t perform it properly, and Scott Herman has an excellent YouTube video showing the worst thing you can do when performing this exercise:

Worst Mistake When Performing The Bent-Over Row (ScottHermanFitness)

Another terrific pull exercise using a barbell is the bent-over T-bar row. This exercise gives a good workout to your rhomboids, traps, deltoids and biceps. This article and video from the MacStrength blog illustrates how to perform this simple (but not easy) exercise using a towel, which I favor over a dedicated T-bar as it means you have to also strengthen your grip to hold the towel:

Exercise Spotlight: Bent Over T-Bar Towel Row (MacStrength)

Note that you don’t actually have to remove the plates from the other end of the bar to perform this exercise, just make sure the back end plates can’t roll around freely.

Then of course there’s the pullup. If you don’t have a pullup bar in your home gym, buy one today. Like these ones for example:

The 7 Best Pullup Bars You Can Get Right Now (MensHealth)

I use a door-attachment bar like the one shown first in the reviewed products in this article. It only cost about $30 and I’ve never had a problem using it (I have a very sturdy doorjamb in our basement where my gym is located). And since I’m still a recovering fat IT pro — and a middle-aged one to boot — I place my feet on a chair when doing pullups to make them easier. Because even if you need to do assisted pullups you can still build a lot of strength in your arms, shoulders and lats by doing them like this.

Doing supersets

In the beginning I did all my push exercises on one day and pull exercises on another. But lately I’ve started doing supersets e.g. push pull push pull rest and repeat. It’s more efficient that way, and I can keep up a faster pace which also gives me some cardio benefit from weightlifting.

But if you’re just starting out with resistance (weight) training, I suggest you focus on learning how to properly perform each exercise using light weights and do three or four sets of 8-12 reps for each exercise in your workout routine.

Get fit and live long!

Cheers, Mitch


Fitness Tip: Trouble digesting whey protein? (Mitch Tulloch)

I don’t know about you, but I usually get bloating from gas whenever I try to drink a whey protein shake. And yet I keep drinking it because I know about its benefits:

10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Whey Protein (Healthline)

But I hate that bloated feeling it gives me. So recently I bit the bullet and decided to shell out a few extra bucks and buy some whey isolate. The one I chose is from Kaizen Naturals:

The simple reason I chose this particular product is because Kaizen Canada is based in my own home town of Winnipeg, Canada, and I can buy their whey isolate at our local Safeway store instead of having to run around to find a supplement store.

And guess what happened when I tried drinking a shake made from Kaizen whey isolate: no bloating!

I have no idea why my body digests whey isolate so much better than quality whey protein, but I’m very glad I discovered this!

What fitness or nutrition tips do you have that you’d like to share with the readers of our newsletter? Email me at [email protected]

Fitness and Body Image (Robin Camp)

Robin Camp works as tech support for an Orthodontic Practice Management Software company called New Horizons Software ( As a professional photographer on the side, Robin does fashion, glamour weddings and more in his spare time ( You can also now find him working out on Instagram at

At some point we have all considered this issue, whether it’s with pride or disgust. The amazing thing about fitness however is that it allows us to change not only how we look like to others, but more importantly, how we look to ourselves.

I had a body image epiphany when I was 14. I was not only short and scrawny, but I was also socially awkward and obsessed with girls. I was at Target when it happened, two cheerleaders from the local high school were ogling a cover shot on one of the fitness magazines featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger, tracing the outlines of his muscles while gushing about him.

After watching them walk away, I picked up the magazine, I had to know how to get woman to look at me this way, and for the next 4 years I became obsessed, hitting the gym up to 4 hours a day, living and sleeping with the goal of changing my body in the forefront of my mind. I did not pack on the weight and become the youngest Mr. Olympia the world had ever seen (yes, I set ultra-realistic goals for myself at that point in life). The fact my mother did not kill me while tolerating this obsession is only further proof she deserves saint hood.

I found something incredibly enlightening as my body changed though. As I felt better about myself, my self-confidence sky rocketed, I didn’t look like Arnold, but suddenly I realized I was talking to girls without stammering or feeling like I was going to pass out. Although some girls found the muscles fascinating, it was the confidence that building them had given me that was actually the key. Whether your goals are simply to lose weight, to tone up or add a little muscle, you will find your increased confidence to be one of the biggest benefits of an exercise program.

The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival. –Aristotle

A car accident derailed my obsession, 6 ruptured discs, leaking spinal fluid, severe whiplash and broken ribs knocked me out of competition. My goals became much simpler, pain management, learning to walk normally again. Another story for another time.

I would like to emphasize something for the female readers out there, lifting weights will not make you suddenly “grotesque” or “overly muscular”. The looks of female bodybuilders are the results of thousands of hours of deliberate, specific goal oriented training and dieting, not something that simply happens from picking up a dumbbell and doing some squats.

Weight training will:

  1. Help you burn more calories every day even when resting
  2. Help improve bone density to prevent osteoporosis,
  3. Make you physically stronger for day to day tasks
  4. Improves self confidence
  5. Improved Energy levels
  6. Help you get toned and leaner
  7. Improved Memory (University of British Columbia)
  8. Improved joint health – weight training reduces the excess weight that can cause joint stress and creates more stable muscle structures
  9. Improved cardiovascular health according to research at the Appalacian State University, 45 minutes of weight training reduces blood pressure by approximately 20%
  10. Reduced back pain – often back pain is from underdeveloped muscles and poor posture,
  11. Harvard University found that weight training is also effective in improving self-esteem and fighting depression

So exercise can help improve not only your health, but also your self-image.

One thing that tends to frustrate some people however is the mistake of ONLY using the scale to measure their progress. Remember, as you get fit you will be adding muscle to your body, muscle lb. for lb. is no heavier than fat, however it is much leaner and denser, it doesn’t jiggle and it helps increase your metabolism.

So when you hit the point that suddenly you’re not making progress on the scale, step back and be analytical; ask yourself how are your clothes fitting? At some point this will have to become the yardstick above the scale. Just remember to take stock of how you are feeling, that set of stairs you just climbed that would have had you huffing months ago is suddenly easier, your dress is loose or you had to cinch that belt down one more notch, these are all indicators you are making progress even when the scale stops providing irrefutable evidence.

Consider to, the BMI indexes are seriously outdated, not taking into account the fit, or athletes. When I was younger I weighed 206 lbs. with 6 % body fat while I was competing in bodybuilding, everything rippled, and yet according to the height weight charts I was not just obese, but grossly obese. So, take a step back and use your eyes and your clothes, they will become more valuable tools then the scale.

Of course, remember not to take it too far. Exercise and body image can quickly become an obsession rather than just a passion. If you allow it to become an obsession, it can take over your life and destroy relationships. Work on getting fit, but remember there is life outside the gym!

Above all, be passionate about this new lifestyle, you will feel better about yourself, you will find new energy and you will be healthier. Remember to not let yourself make excuses to slack off, you are doing this for a better you! Sticking to your goals and taking care of yourself will not only benefit you, it will also inspire those around you and set an example for your children and loved ones.

“The only people for me are the mad ones: the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who… burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow Roman candles.” –Jack Kerouac


PSA: Learning to Shut up When Any Something is Just Enough (Rod Trent)

Professionally, Rod Trent is a PFE/STA for Microsoft, focusing on Azure Identity and Governance and EMS. Privately, Rod is dedicated to fitness through diet, running, and other activities, but also a TV and movie junkie. You can find Rod active on Twitter ( and LinkedIn (

For those of us that have already been down the trek of researching and locating our perfect fitness gadget, it can be difficult not to provide post-Christmas scrutiny for fitness devices our family and friends received as gifts. I find myself in this situation every year. Some family and friends will solicit my advice before making a fitness gadget purchase, but others won’t solicit my “thoughts” until long after the device has been bought, wrapped, and opened.

Here’s a tip.

Before you decide to grace your loved ones with your fitness gadget knowledge try to remember back to when you started on your own fitness journey. You had no clue; you just knew you wanted to do and be better. You really solicited advice only for support in your journey. Your friends and family are doing the same.

Remember, that any movement in the right direction is still movement. And that’s all that’s important. The first step to any level of fitness should be as small and as manageable possible to get the greatest success. Anything is better than nothing.

And, don’t worry, once your loved ones have progressed a little and are looking to take things to the next level, then you can stop biting your tongue.


The Vegan (WFPB) starter (Mark Nichols)

Mark Nichols is an IT professional that got started with VMS in 1984 and is now a Sales Engineer for a Global IT Software company and a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer with his local box.

About five years ago, after a lot of research into health issues (and a challenge from my Doctor), I chose to transition to a Whole Food Plant-Based (WFPB) way of eating and eliminate as much sugar, oil, and salt as possible. WFPB offers a massive variety of foods for all tastes, and over the years, we learned to make delicious dishes that even our meat-eating friends love! I consulted a cousin who had been WFPB for four years, and he gave me some great tips for getting started that I have included here.

There are two ways to approach the transition. You can quit animal products cold turkey, or you can gradually replace animal-based meals with whole food plant-based alternatives. I have heard somewhere around 80% of the people who go cold turkey revert to eating meat within three months. That approach wouldn’t work for me. I strongly recommend a gradual approach. However, if you have a health crisis, make a move NOW!

With the gradual approach, I recommend starting with a goal to replace 2-3 meals in the first week with plant-based alternatives. Some easy choices would be to replace the meat in tacos or spaghetti with plant-based crumbles that are readily available in your grocer’s freezer section.

After that, replace 2-3 more meals per week. I gave myself a goal of making the transition in 12 weeks. By 12 weeks, I was completely meat and dairy-free. After 16 weeks, I had lost my taste for meat.

  1. Don’t think of it as “giving up meat.” Think of it as replacingmeat with things that will help your body heal, improve your gut microbiome, improve your sleep, and provide essential micronutrients that your body has been missing.
  2. When eating out, ask the waiter for vegan options. Your health is worth it!
  3. Download the “Forks over Knives” App. It has GREAT recipes!! My favorites are the Spinach Enchilada, Moroccan Butternut Squash Stew, and many others.
  4. Another fabulous source of recipes is the Plant-Pure Nation Cookbook.
  5. You will need to supplement with B12. I STRONGLY recommend this supplement:
  6. Our taste buds change depending on what we eat. Anything we eat regularly, we will develop a taste for (like brussel sprouts). You can start with small portions, and eventually, you will begin to like them.

I recommend the for great articles on protein requirements and essential information. You can check out “The Engine2 Seven-day Rescue Challenge Group” Facebook group and others too.

Netflix has some very interesting movies such as, “The Game Changers”, “Forks Over Knives”, and “What the Health”.

Here is a sample menu that we pick from when planning our meals.

  • Vegetable Stew – Potatoes (2 medium), Tomatoes (1 15 oz. can), Raw Carrots, 1 Onion, Frozen Butter Beans, Frozen Okra, Black-eyed Peas (1 can, rinsed), Frozen Corn. Simmer for about 2 hours. This recipe makes a large pot of stew.
  • Mexican – Spinach Enchiladas from the “Forks Over Knives” app (highly recommended) or Tacos with plant-based meat alternative.
  • Italian – Spaghetti. We add Zucchini, Mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, oregano, etc. to the sauce and eat more of the sauce than the noodles.
  • Indian – Curry made with a non-dairy sauce from the grocery store over brown rice or quinoa. Primary ingredient: Any vegetables we have in the refrigerator. My favorites are green peas, cauliflower.
  • Thai – Lemon Basil curry flavor packet from the grocery store mixed in with Bok Choy, Celery, carrots, broccoli and some coconut milk over rice noodles
  • Veggie Burgers with sauerkraut on mustard, roasted brussel sprouts with flavored vinegar drizzled over them, and a sweet potato

Vegan Sweet Potato Chile with a baked potato covered with Salsa on the side. I skip the oil. Spicy Vegan Chili Recipe

Breakfast: Steel-cut oatmeal with walnuts, blueberries, ground flax seeds, and sautéed kale with balsamic vinegar. Also, I LOVE the leftovers from the night before. Eating vegetables for breakfast may seem weird at first, but you will get used to it.

Easy and Fast: Rice and Beans with a Sweet Potato and sautéed kale.

Hint: I frequently add lemon, garlic, and salt-free Mrs. Dash when sautéing greens, and I use aged balsamic vinegar liberally on cooked greens or brussel sprouts.

The WFPB community (NOT necessarily vegans) is a supportive group, and we would love to help or answer any questions. Let me know if I can help!


Vitruvian IT Pro (Kris Lall)

Kris Lall works as a product manager in the tech industry for an enterprise software manufacturer. As a youngster, Kris was consumed with soccer before technology came along. Now he’s consumed with both. You can find him on Twitter at the not-too-surprising handle @krisoccer.

It’s no secret that building and maintaining a healthy body requires a suitable balance of physical activity and nutrients, as nicely exemplified by Leonardo da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” drawing of the proportional male body:

Vitruvian Man, Leonardo Da Vinci. (Source:Wikipedia)

We know that exercise improves our physique, but can what you eat have a significantly positive impact your physical appearance? The answer is yes.

The challenge here is that while many people find that creating a workout routine is fun, fewer fitness folks are interested in counting calories or tracking what they eat for every meal. The good news is that you can make a similar progression improving your physique by tracking your intake via a different nutrition category called macronutrients. Macronutrients include protein, carbohydrates, and fats, and are the three main nutrient categories from which the visible human physique is affected.

Tracking macronutrients is easier than tracking a strict diet, allowing you to eat “intuitively” instead of tracking every food you consume. Once you have some knowledge about whether what you eat is a protein, carb, or fat, you simply eat what makes sense. You still make sure you’re eating the right combination of foods, but it’s much less complicated than other dieting methods.

Just like just about every other aspect of our lives, technology solutions are available to make this task easier. One phone app, MyFitnessApp, provides a personal recommendation on the quantity of calories and macronutrients to consume based on your current weight and personal fitness goal.

When you’re first trying to lose or gain weight, a strict diet can be difficult and is unnecessary for many. Abiding by an “if it fits your macros” (or IIFYM) diet can be a great way to monitor your calories and intake of the three macronutrients, and is easily customizable if you have any pre-exiting conditions like high cholesterol.

The beginning of a new year is a good time to resolve taking your fitness to the next level. Combining a physical workout with a less rigorous method of counting calories via macronutrients could very well enable you to become a Vitruvian IT Pro.



Keeping my goals at the forefront of my daily activity (Brian Dougal)

Brian Dougal is an IT manager for Powder River Development, a father of five, a blitz-hobbyist, a table-top role player, and a health coach for the OptaVia Health Program. You can also find Brian on Instagram @dougalhealth.

Hey, IT Nerds, How’s your health?

Welcome to 2020! (Still waiting for my jet pack, flying car, and cybernetics readily available in corner markets.)

With the new year I’m doing my due diligence at creating New Year Resolutions that I will most likely not stick with and completely forget by next weekend.

And I think that’s probably my biggest issue in my life, not keeping my goals at the forefront of my daily activity.

Some questions I should ask myself, and I put them here so maybe if you do the same as me, these questions may help you as well:

  1. What have I done today to meet my goal?
  2. How does that meet my need over time?

I read a book by Hyrum Smith, founder of FranklinCovey, and creator of the Franklin Day Planner (If you’re not aware of Hyrum’s work as a motivational speaker, I strongly recommend checking him out. A true legend in changing lives.) Hyrum points out this difference between eastern and western cultures:

Eastern cultures feel fulfilled when they sit quietly and do nothing. They find Inner Peace, they Ascend, they reach Enlightenment.

Western cultures feel fulfilled when we Accomplish. We reach our goals, we hit our milestones.

In fact, studies show that the reason people get so easily caught up in certain video games is because Achievements. When you’re playing your game and a pop-up comes in saying you’ve completed an Achievement, you get a hit of dopamine, which tells you that you have accomplished a goal, even if you didn’t know you had that goal, even if you spent the last 5 hours sitting on your couch covered in Cheeto dust surrounded by soda bottles.

Hyrum recommends setting long-term goals, short-term goals that lead towards that long-term goal, milestones to reach those short-term goals, and daily tasks to reach those milestones. Write these down, put them somewhere you can see, like on your desk, on your bathroom mirror, on the fridge, whatever helps you notice them. Check them daily and ask those two questions.

Let’s start with the example of losing 50 pounds. Remember the S.M.A.R.T. goal setting system: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely. My long-term goal is to be about 200 pounds and maintain that. My short-term goal is to lose 50 pounds in 30 weeks, figuring about 1-1/2 to 2 pounds per week, and allowing for variance. There is my SMART goal: 50 pounds @ 1-1/2 to 2 pounds per week in 30 weeks.

Just having that goal does me no good if I don’t have the milestones to reach that. And that is where those two questions, and a little extra planning, come in.

What have I done today to meet my goal? This will be your exercise program, your diet, the amount of water you drank and the amount of sleep you got.

Did I do my work out? Do I have my meal ready for the end of my fast or did I eat the right amount of protein, calories and fats? Am I drinking at least 100oz of water in the day? Did I sleep for 7 hours and wake refreshed?

How does this meet my need over time? This will be the reflection, the self-evaluation, and the opportunity for adjustment.

Maybe I had a muffin at lunch that someone brought into the breakroom. That’s a couple hundred unplanned calories that must be adjusted for. Perhaps I need to take a longer walk at lunch, or some jumping jacks at break, or consider that my daily reward and skip the regular treat I had planned.

When I take a few more minutes in my goal setting to set weekly milestones, and daily actions to reach those milestones I make success more likely.

Happy New Year and Slainte!


Healthy Body, Healthy Mind! (Kris Kane)

Kris Kane is a North Yorkshire based personal trainer, martial arts instructor and general fitness enthusiast. You can find him on Instagram at @koachedbykris and also view him professionally on LinkedIn at

Hi everyone, Happy New Year 🙂

This month is typically when people have a fresh boost of motivation to improve their health and fitness. This is great as more people will be active and hitting the gym but it’s important to remember the wider benefits of training to help keep you going once that initial enthusiasm has worn off.

To help keep you fired up here are 10 reasons to workout that have nothing to do with how you look or physical health:

1) Improved confidence – not only in how you look and carry yourself, but also the feeling of your “inner warrior”. The feeling of being physically stronger and just knowing you are doing your best to look after yourself and working hard.

2) Improved mood – exercise releases endorphins that make you feel happier and help manage anxiety.

3) You stop obsessing about your bodyweight, and start focusing on the weight of the dumbbells and enjoying the process just as much as the outcome.

4) For one hour a day, you can forget about all your problems. I tell my clients to try and clear their mind as they enter the gym and not think about their to do list for that time. Instead, have a focus on the movement, focus on the muscle and that will help lead to results.

5) It teaches you discipline – to keep coming when you don’t feel like it, when you’re tired or not progressing as fast as you would like.

6) It teaches you to set goals, work towards them with a game plan and make new ones when you reach them. Achieving small goals in the gym can make you more likely to set yourself bigger goals outside of it.

7) It teaches you to push outside your comfort zone. After the initial newbie gains, you won’t progress unless you push outside that comfort zone.

8) You get to meet nice people and even make friends. Everyone in the gym is working on becoming a better version of themselves, so you already have one thing in common.

9) You will improve your self-esteem. Not only is working out an activity of self-care, but the small achievements you make in the gym build a feeling of self-efficacy (you start to believe in yourself)

10) Teaches you patience and perseverance. Things don’t always go your way. The gym ethic is that’s life. You keep going, adapt and work hard with what you’ve got and eventually the results will come.

I hope the above serves as a reminder of the many health and wellbeing benefits to exercise and you can use it to refer back to whenever you need that extra bit of motivation.

If any of your new year goals involve fat loss and you want some further support, head over to my new Facebook page where I will be posting useful daily tips on all things training, nutrition and mindset <grin>

As always, good luck with your training and let me know if you have any questions.

[email protected]



FEEL, EAT, GAIN, REPEAT: How to break the negative cycle (Lana Khazari)

Lana Khazari is a Technical Support Analyst for the Corporation of City of Windsor, Ontario, Canada. She is also a Precision Nutrition Coach, Personal Trainer, Fitness Instructor and a Yoga 200-RYT Instructor. You can find her online at

Welcome to January! New Year, New You, right?!?!

It’s here. Sugar detoxes, low-carb challenges, supplement ads and the next magic thing that promises to torch all of your body fat. The fitness and diet industry is the devil. No joke.

But, what if? What if your eating issues go deeper than a new diet or challenge can solve?

Fresh out of university I was more of a “mathlete” than an “athlete”. I’d ballooned up to over 230 pounds. I was overweight and depressed. I needed to “get in shape”.

However, I got stuck in the following cycle for years:

Lana feels lonely, anxious, depressed, or stressed >> Lana eats >> Lana gains weight >> Lana attempts to lose weight >> Lana fails to keep it off >> Repeat LOOP

In Computer Science they call this an INFINITE LOOP. My first job was a computer programmer and here’s some pseudo-code to maybe prove that:

1              While (Lana = “lonely” or Lana = “anxious” or Lana = “stressed” or Lana = “depressed”) {

2              EAT until so bloated I can’t move;

3              GAIN WEIGHT yet again;

4              FIND the next “quick-fix” or diet to lose weight;

5              } //repeat loop

Line 1 contains the condition. Line 5 tells you to start the loop again. It’s an endless cycle of madness.

For years, I thought the solution to my problem was in Line 4. Until I realized, I had to re-write the entire program. That meant I had to start at the condition. I had to learn how to respond differently to being emotionally distraught.

I had to separate EATING from FEELING.

Wait… “How the hell do you do that?!?!”

I seriously had no idea at the time. And I didn’t figure it out until I asked for help. People’s true motivations are often hidden so deep that they don’t even know what their motivations are until someone strategically uncovers them.

And that’s what coaching did for me. But, I can share a bit of what I’ve learned to maybe help you out.

For some of us, our food behaviors may have deeper reason, function, and purpose. We may be using food to self-soothe, distract, avoid, signal distress, help manage situations we feel are painful, or use food to give us a sense of control. We hire food to do the job of solving another problem in our life. Ever find yourself standing in front of an open refrigerator looking for the answer?

People and their set of interrelated behaviors, thoughts, and emotions are so complex that it may look different from one person to the next. The first thing TO DO to break the endless loop is to become more aware of what’s happening.

Before you try to make changes, observe your:

Eating Process

  • Do you restrict all day and then eat at night?
  • Are you a calorie-counter, logging everything meticulously including your workouts?
  • Are you eating distracted?
  • Do you skip meals?
  • Do you label foods “good” and “bad” and try to stay clean?
  • What time do you normally eat?
  • Do you eat faster than 20 minutes?


  • Where are you eating?
  • Who was with you when you were eating?


  • What were you thinking or feeling at the time?
  • Did you just have a heated discussion?
  • Have you been working on something non-stop and have built-up anxiety?

Your eating process, environment, and triggers will be unique to you. You can use a food journal to note your observations. This can be a powerful way to increase your motivation. I don’t mean just journalling what and how much your eating. You also write down what you are thinking and feeling at the time.

Here is an emotional eating journal you could use (PDF file):

After logging, reflect and ask yourself:

  • What worked? Why?
  • What didn’t work? Why not?
  • Was it easier to manage some behaviors than others?

Next, take 1 action step. Is there something you can do just a little bit better? Maybe you found going hungry to a stressful meeting made you hit up the donuts at the table. Could you have some nuts or another quick snack ready at your desk beforehand?

It’s best to commit to doing one small thing at a time. This is more likely to become a habit and part of a routine. Personally, practicing this for years, I had a goldmine of insights and a shit-ton of better habits.

Being open to the “little bit better” approach is what helped me to invest in the process: do less, take it slow, better my nutrition, work on mindset shifts, find my support team, practice a better habit…so on and so forth. This process is what leads to sustainable results. Not a diet. Not another Bootcamp. Not a pretty bottle that promises to melt 10 pounds in a month through appetite suppression so you don’t have to sew your mouth shut.

We can get stuck on instant gratification and the need to lose weight right NOW. Instead, make every day New Year’s day by committing to being just a little bit better each day.


Outfitting a home gym (Jimmy Vo)

Jimmy Vo is a cyber security professional in the financial sector. He’s a Jiu Jitsu hobbyist and a purple belt under Lucas Lepri in Charlotte, NC. You can find Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyVo

Get dressed, drive 10 minutes, check in, and wait for the person doing bicep curls on the squat rack to finish. This was the sequence that always left a sour taste in my mouth when working out at a commercial gym. After I purchased my first home, I told my wife I had enough of the gyms and wanted to take over “my half” of the garage for a home gym. Since my strength training “program” was simple, I just needed the equipment to do the 4 big lifts, squat, deadlift, overhead press, and bench.

After saving some cash and looking for spare change under my couch cushion, I was able to by the following equipment:

  • Bumper plates (275lb)
  • Olympic Barbell
  • Bench
  • Rogue RML-3W Fold Back Wall Mount Rack

Jimmy’s home gym where he prepares for his UFC debut <grin> –EDITOR

This cost me roughly $1400. If a gym membership cost $10/month, I still haven’t broken even. The key here is realizing you’re doing it for convenience and not economics. My strength training is not my primary focus, it’s supplementary to my Brazilian Jiu Jitu training. Given that fact, I only use my home gym 2-3 days a week, making it even less economical.

It is still worth every penny.

I don’t have much time between working as a cyber security professional, training jiu jitsu, spending time with my wife. Having a home gym allows me to quickly get a workout in without the wasted time of a drive and waiting around for equipment. For the times I work from home, I can take a lunch or quickly workout in between meetings.

I know for other folks, going to a gym is part of the experience. For me, the investment of a home gym is worth it. It provides me flexibility and saves me a ton of time. Having my own space allows me to play my own music, customize my own space, and best of all have my own rules

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