“The more you move, the easier it is to keep moving. Maintain the momentum” – James Clear
A few months ago, we posted a blog about building your momentum. If you haven’t read it or want a refresher, check it out here!
The reality is, our bodies and minds thrive off of consistency. The more you do something, the easier it is to continue doing that action. This is especially important when working towards health and wellness goals.
When people set health and wellness goals, they feel extremely motivated at first. You will feel more obligated to show up to workouts, eat healthier, and take care of yourself. However, this puts a huge emphasis on solely motivation. When a busy or hard day hits, and the motivation is low, many people fall off track.
It’s normal for motivation to fluctuate.
However, motivation doesn’t matter as much when you build momentum. Building your momentum is continuing to show up every day for your goals, even when you don’t feel like it or are unmotivated. Building your momentum is aiming to be at LEAST 1% better each day, even when you’d rather slack. Motivation is great until it wears off. It’s easy to show up on days that you’re excited. It builds strength, grit, and momentum when you show up on the hard days.
Often times, we feel guilt when our motivation wears off. Because to ourselves, it seems like those around us never struggle with motivation. That image of others makes us feel like, “Why can’t I always feel motivated, too?”. However, being motivated 100% every day is an unrealistic expectation.
So today, remind yourself that you are human and it is okay to have days where you simply don’t want to do that workout, or eat that healthy meal, or drink water instead of a pop.
On the hard days, challenge yourself to keep building momentum. Even if it’s a smaller action than usual, still do it. If you’re struggling to get a 60 minute workout in, start with just 10 minutes. If you’re struggling to eat healthy, just start with one small substitution in your day.
Small steps lead to big wins. Build your momentum.
You may have noticed either in the gym or on our social media, that we’ve recently moved into a new training block which is focused on building strength. Based on the questions we’ve been receiving, I think it’s important to explain what we mean by a “training block,” and why it’s important to your health and fitness. We believe that you deserve to have it all: mobility, strength, and endurance.
Let’s shift away from the mindset of “Exercising” and towards the idea of Training.
The fancy term for the type of training we employ at Paragon is called Blocked Periodization or Blocked Programming. A training block refers to a period of time when the primary focus of each workout is directed towards achieving a specific response in the body. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with exercising for the sake of exercising. The act of getting to the gym and checking off a box saying you worked out that day has plenty of psychological benefits to go along with some health benefits if you’re able to keep checking that box off consistently over the long term.
However, if you’re making an investment of both time and money to go to the gym, we believe that you should be getting the greatest return on that investment possible. Regardless of your personal goals, training with a purpose is essential to continued progress.
Training vs. Exercising
Training in blocks
Exercise for the sake of exercise
Outcome-oriented: each block has its own objectives
Showing up and working out becomes the goal
Time-constrained: You have a set period of time to achieve specific results, leading to increased accountability and adherence
Undefined and unregulated time constraints, making it easier to skip workouts and lose focus
Specific stimulus=specific responseWe provide a well thought-out set of parameters for each block: -Exercise selection-Intensity-Volume-Rest and recovery
No actual program design, making it easier to get distracted by the latest random movement on Instagram …without ever actually getting strong in any one movement.
As you can see, taking a long term view of your health requires a more thorough planning process than just showing up. Blocked programming brings these complex topics into focus and gives you the tools to have it all.
Types of Training Blocks
Setting aside competitive athletes who have specific seasons for the sport they play, there are three primary training blocks that Paragon clients utilize throughout the year: Work Capacity, Hypertrophy, and Strength.
Goals: Improve the amount of work that your body can tolerate. This includes improvements to your cardiorespiratory fitness as well as local muscle endurance. Want to be able to take on any challenge and participate in all of life’s adventures? You need to be able to tolerate some work. If you find yourself out of breath during relatively low-intensity tasks or have a hard time recovering between sets at the gym, chances are a work capacity block should be in your near future. Week by week, we want to see a progressive increase in the total amount of volume (sets, reps and load) that your body can handle.
Intensity: RPE between 4-6 per set. No single set during a work capacity block should be taken close to failure, but you’ll feel fatigued by the end of each session as you’re continuing to challenge your cardiorespiratory systems.
Volume: Total session volume as high as possible, increasing week by week.
Recovery: Incomplete recovery between sets, allowing the heart rate and muscular tension to decrease, but not reaching a point of baseline.
Goals: Increase the overall size and density of your muscle tissue. This may sound intimidating at first, but keep in mind that these studies show a clear link between the amount of muscle you have and your length and quality of life, while these studies show a significant improvement in metabolic flexibility in individuals who increase their lean mass. Bottom line: bigger muscles make you healthier and improve your ability to lose excess body fat if that’s the route you’re going for.
Intensity: RPE between 6-8 per set (though this does vary person to person), with a greater focus on specific muscle tension.
Volume: Per muscle group volume as high as possible, with sets/reps and load increasing week by week.
Recovery: Increased rest time between sets per muscle group, allowing complete or nearly complete recovery.
Goals: All of that muscle you built in the hypertrophy block might look cool, but it doesn’t do much if you can’t use it, and that comes down to learning to create a ton of force and move heavy things. If you want to be independent, capable and healthy long term- strength might be the most important aspect of your physical health.
Intensity: RPE 6-9 per set with more sets taken closer to RPE 8-9 than any previous block.
Volume: Kept low to ensure that heavy enough loads are being lifted to maximize strength benefits and allow for complete recovery between sets.
Recovery: Complete rest between sets. If heart rate is being tracked, it should recover close to your working baseline between sets.
By training these elements individually and consistently, you get stronger, leaner and conditioned much more efficiently than trying to train them all at once.
Whether it be from social media or from information others are spewing out, we may be in a consistent cycle of feeling like we aren’t enough or doing enough.
Here are a few scenarios that may resonate with you. . .
Maybe you saw an instagram influencer meal prepping their meals each week, and got down on yourself because that isn’t something you enjoy or find yourself sticking to.
Or maybe someone was talking about how many times a week they workout, and it made you feel like the hard work you have been doing is inadequate.
Have you ever felt like nutrition and health comes so easily to others, and you don’t feel like you can stick to the same habits?And because of that, you feel like you’re failing or something is wrong with you.
It is so easy to forget that “perfect” doesn’t actually exist, and there’s no magic answer on how to do health and wellness. At the end of the day, it is simply about finding the habits and routine that works for you and sticks long terms.
Two people may follow completely different nutrition lifestyles, but both be thriving in their own ways. One person may meal prep every meal, and one person may just enjoy adding a veggie to each of their meal. And both people thrive with those different habits.
Remind yourself today, and everyday, that your journey is uniquely your own. No one else’s choices and habits should ever make you feel like you’re not doing enough. Because the reality is, we each have such vastly different needs, desires, likes, and dislikes.
Find what works for you, and view that as your own version of “perfect”.
One of the most critical pieces of strength training is understanding training intensity. To measure our intensity, we use an RPE or RIR scale. In the gym, you usually get asked by a coach, “How many more reps could you have done?” This simple question determines how much weight we should increase or decrease our next set by!
RPE is an acronym for rate of perceived exertion. An RPE of 10 means we have reached our maximum effort and have no reps left in the tank. We rarely will touch this high end of the scale because more often than not, the outcome costs more than we benefit. An RPE of 1 means we could do at least 9 more reps, its light activity and we’re hardly exerting ourselves. We rarely will touch this low end of the scale because in order to reach any training outcomes, we need a stronger stimulus.
RIR goes hand in hand with RPE, it’s just another scale. Neither is right or wrong to use, they both determine the same outcome. RIR stands for reps in reserve. If you could do 3 more reps in a set, your RIR is 3! (The RPE would be 7).
So, where do we spend most of our training time? From an RPE of 5 and up to 9. Or…RIR of 1 to 5. Let’s dig deeper into when and why we train at what RPE.
RPE 5-6 or RIR 4-5:
We usually train in this area in our first circuit of a workout. Typically, this includes things like medicine balls, core and jumping. While we are exerting ourselves here, we aren’t performing anywhere near failure. We want to jump high, be powerful and move fast but are preparing for the next circuits.
We also train in this area during warm up sets. We don’t start with our heaviest weight, we start a little lighter to introduce a stimulus to our muscles and get our blood flowing while getting our technique down.
You may see RPE 6 or RIR 4 written on the board during the first week of a new training block. More specifically, a work capacity block (the ones where you sweat quite a bit) or a hypertrophy block (the ones where your muscles burn and you get a pump). This is because we don’t need high loads to get the desired outcome and the RPE will increase week by week!
RPE 7-9 or RIR 3-1:
We will see these numbers on the board as your training block progresses. We don’t start with a weight that is at or near failure in week 1, but by week 4 of a strength or hypertrophy block we may reach RPE 8 or 9!
The most common RPE or RIR you’ll be familiar with is RPE 6-7 or RIR 3-4. As you gain more training experience and can maintain perfect form without error while increasing weight, you will earn your way to working with RPEs above 7. This comes with time, attention to details and learning how to breath and brace.
For beginners or people just getting back into a consistent training routine, I recommend spending 3-5 weeks at an RPE of 5-6 or RIR of 4-5. You can make solid progress and recover well without exceeding your comfort zone for longer than you’d expect!
Don’t know what RPE to train to? If you’re in a class setting, it’s written on the board! If you’re only 1 month into training at Paragon, your RPE won’t exceed 6 (RIR 4) until your coach prompts you.
Looking for a delicious way to switch up your normal breakfast? Look no further! Try out these Healthy Breakfast Cookies as a convenient addition to your week.
I love making options like this because it feels more indulgent, especially when watching your intake, and is an easy way to get nutrients in.
Recipe: -1 cup canned pumpkin -1 cup peanut butter -1/2 cup liquid sweetener (honey, sugar free syrup, etc. I used half honey half sugar free syrup, which is what the macros below are based off of) -vanilla and almond extract to taste -2 cups old fashioned oatmeal -1 cup whole wheat flour -2 scoops protein powder -1 tsp baking powder -cinnamon -1 cup dried cranberries -1/2 c mini chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Mix pumpkin, peanut butter, honey/syrup, and extracts in a large bowl. 2. Combine all dry ingredients (oats, flour, protein powder, baking soda) in a separate bowl. Add sweetener of choice if needed. 3. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together and stir in chocolate chips and cranberries. 4. Make 16 cookies and bake for about 14 minutes! You’ll have to flatten the cookies on the baking sheet with a spoon or spatula to shape the cookie
Macros for one cookie out of 16: 10 g fat, 30 g carbs, 9 G protein
“What should I eat?” may be one of the top questions asked by clients.
The truth is that there are no specific foods or diet plans that will magically make you progress forward. Every body is different, and our bodies need variety in nutrition. It is crucial to focus on a healthy diet, however we want to be sure you aren’t cutting out entire food groups or foods in the process (unless there is a specific health reason and medical guidance to be doing so).
Nutrition is easily the habit most people fall off track with regularly. This is usually because they picked an unsustainable approach, became very restrictive, etc. Instead of thinking of foods as foods you “can” or “can’t” eat, try a less restrictive approach for long-term success.
A great way to approach nutrition in a balanced, sustainable way is to think of foods as foods you should eat more of, eat some of, and eat less of. This approach makes you feel much less restricted and miserable, doesn’t cause you to beat yourself up if you enjoy an ice cream cone with friends, and lasts long term. It’s more of a lifestyle than a crash diet.
Taking this approach allows you to be flexible, adapt on the go, and most importantly: enjoy the process.
The infographic below from Precision Nutrition showcases this approach and how it can be implemented into your routine! Try it out, and let us know what you think.
The main thing in the way of you and self care is typically time and discipline.
Along with that, self care is most definitely something I view as a task easier said than done.
While taking time for yourself sounds nice in theory, when a busy day hits where your kids need a ride, you have an important work deadline, or life gets in the way it is easy to forget your own needs and push those off for another time. Or simply, maybe the self care you’ve seen online just seems completely unrealistic and in turn makes you less likely to want to try at it yourself.
I am here to remind you that there is no “perfect” definition of self care. What works for someone doesn’t have to work for you, because we all have different needs, schedules, etc. It can be as simple or as complex as you need and want!
As mentioned earlier, the two things that often stand in most of our way to stick to our self care routine is time and discipline. Below, I will break the two down and share my tips!
Time. Life is busy and hectic, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take time for ourselves! If you have found yourself struggling lately to make time for a walk, reading, or your favorite hobby (note: self care is more than just eating right and working out!) try setting aside 5-10 minutes each day. Start small. Once you’re able to hit that 5-10 minutes each day, try adding more!
Discipline. Just like all other priorities, deadlines, and jobs in our lives, self care requires discipline. To increase your chances of sticking to a self care routine, find something you love and SCHEDULE it into your calendar! Treat it as a non-negotiable portion of your day. Practice saying “no” to extra things on your plate that could get in the way of you and your self care.
Along with the two mentioned factors above, sometimes all it takes is a quick re-evaluation of our current routine. Maybe think about how many minutes you spend scrolling through social media or on your phone, watching TV, etc. Many times, we can create a lot of time for ourselves if we limit the screen time we have each day!
This weekend, take an extra 5-10 minutes to do something you love and de-stress from your week.
Eating healthy, nutritious meals helps support our overall wellness in more ways than just physical! Yes, eating healthy benefits our physical body, but it also helps lower stress levels and improve emotional/mental wellness. Having food prepped for the week is a sure way to ensure success, save time, and feel your best!
I tried a new recipe this week for meal prep and needed to share it! It is so delicious!
In a large bowl, mix together turkey, breadcrumbs, eggs, green onions, garlic powder and salt/pepper until well combined. Shape mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls (you’ll make roughly 40 balls) and place spaced apart on prepared baking sheets lightly sprayed with cooking spray.
Bake meatballs for 20 to 25 minutes, or until browned and cooked through.
While the meatballs are baking, combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking continuously. Reduce heat and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes (the sauce will start to thicken) then toss with the meatballs.
Serve immediately over brown rice and top with green onions and a few sesame seeds. Enjoy!
I served mine with white rice and carrots! Let me know if you try this recipe out, or have one you’d like to share.
“The more you move, the easier it is to keep moving. Maintain the momentum” – James Clear
In the gym, and in life, there is nearly endless opportunity to be pursued. Every moment, everywhere you go, you choose what you do or do not decide upon in each moment.
Think about that for a second.
Whether you are considering the location of your next trip, how much effort you want to exert looking for the remote, or what portions you would like to eat for dinner; you are constantly setting up, weighing, and executing decisions. There is no way around it.
This can seem a paralyzing realization at first, until we dissect it a bit further. Your daily life has become what you have decided over months, years, or decades. There is some social influence upon your decisions, but for the most part, your choices are your own. There really is no one else to lay blame or congratulations upon for these daily choices, other than the person with the eyes reading this article (hint: that’s you).
Life is not an endless wave of infinite decisions, simply because our brains would explode if it were. The human body and brain love ‘cruise control’; that is, our decisions become simpler over time as we make them more frequently.
This is where momentum comes into play. Momentum is a thought process, a belief. You can simply relax and allow the wave of your daily decisions to be made for you, or you can start to nudge yourself in a certain direction. It will seem a fairly significant challenge at first. Start small. Stay small. Then, once you have established some momentum, push yourself a little further along in that direction.
Going to the gym multiple days a week may seem a challenge at first, if that has not been your typical daily decision. Starting small may be as simple as one day per week. Then, once that gives you some momentum, push to two days.
Cooking healthy meals for yourself may be uncomfortable territory. Start with a simple, easy recipe on a day off. Once you establish a routine, work into two meals. Then, once you are comfortable, become a chef. Only slightly joking, but hopefully the point is hitting.
Change may seem like standing at the foot of a mountain, especially in unknown habits and skills. You know what you must do to get up that mountain, though? Take a step. Then another step.
Build your momentum. Climb the mountain. Then, enjoy the view.
In any endeavor the simplest and basic things are often the most overlooked. The basics are essential and are what build a great foundation for any major goal, but also our health. The basic principles for a healthy, happy, and whole life can be categorized into diet, quiet, movement, and happiness. Think of all of these as spokes on a wheel. Once one is removed, the wheel becomes flat and is unable to roll smoothly. With more than one removed, then it may not be able to roll at all.
Diet is very important because in health and fitness, it is known that you can never out-train a bad diet. It does not matter how hard you work, if your diet is poor, then you will always be limited and most likely just be an unhealthy person with a “fit” body, which gyms across the world are filled with. Everyone is different, so there is no perfect diet for everyone, only a perfect diet for YOU. The basics are just drink clean water and eat food that came from a healthy plant or animal. Sick animals and plants make for sick people. If you can find organic locally grown produce and meat then even better, but if not just do what you can. Some effort is better than none.
Quiet can be categorized as rest, recovery, and meditation. You are not building muscle when you work out, you are only stimulating muscle to be built. Getting quality sleep is so extremely important for not only overall health but building muscle and burning fat. Poor disrupted sleep alters metabolism and boosts your body’s ability to store fat. Also, it is essential to rest the mind as well through some sort of meditative practice. When was the last time you just sat somewhere, didn’t look at your phone, didn’t worry about something in the future or the past, and just did nothing? If you have done that, you’ll know how refreshed you feel even after just five minutes of silence.
Movement is obviously essential in any health and fitness journey, but they key here is knowing how to move and how much is needed. If you do exercises your body is not ready for or do them with poor technique, you will most likely get injured, and being injured is the opposite of being healthy. Also, too much movement can be very destructive towards your health as well. If you are doing more exercise than your body can recover for, then you are never getting better, you are either staying the same or regressing. Not every single set in the gym needs to be taken to failure and not every workout needs to make you sore for the next week. Overtraining not only affects your movement goals but crosses over into the other categories as well. Start small and slowly add on. It’s less about what you do in a day and more about what you are doing month to month.
Happiness is very important for living a healthy life. What’s all of the working out, eating properly, meditating, and rest worth if you are perpetually unhappy with your day-to-day life. You need to define what your dream is and cut out all of the things that are not conducive towards it. You know more than anyone else what makes YOU happy, so only YOU can guide yourself towards those things and live out your dream. This doesn’t mean you have to be happy 24/7, because I am not sure that is healthy either. To be human means to experience the good and the bad days, but if your days are more negative than positive, then it is time to make a change.
I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes, “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be” – Lao Tzu.