Category Archives: My Philosophy

My guide to Weight Loss (It’s Nothing Crazy)

I take my clients goals very seriously. I try to give them all of the tools that they need to make the choices necessary to reach those goals. Hearing any of my clients say that they aren’t seeing the results that they were hoping for, is by far the most stressful situation that I have experienced so far as a trainer. I pride myself on providing challenging, functional, fun and educational fitness classes and sessions that lead to results. This is what my philosophy revolves around, and if it doesn’t work then my philosophy is flawed. That is what stresses me out. Like butterflies in my stomach and keeps me up at night kind of stress. Fat loss is by far the most common goal of any of my clients. This is the hardest one for me to ensure happens. Getting a client stronger, faster, moving better or performing better in an event, is easy compared to guiding a client through a weight loss journey. There is so much information out there regarding fat loss, some of it good, most of it bad and confusing; I take for granted that my clients are doing everything right when we are not together. One of the hardest parts with this is that many of them are legitimately trying. Following programs that they have found on line or that are provided by an App on their phones or sticking to what they remember working in the past. The problem with this is many of the programs on the internet or found on apps are not nearly personalized enough to provide the weight loss that they are looking for. I encourage you to read my blog “When am I going to see results”, I talk about the need to focus on more than just weight loss as a “result” of healthy lifestyle choices. However, I realize that weight loss is a very important goal for some people, and it can have medical implications for some. So with this in mind, I wanted to provide a guide to weight loss (should be called fat loss). Here are six basic general rules to follow that, if you follow them at least 80% of the time day in day out you will see the results you are looking for. No gimmicks, no fads just truths.

Strength train.

The best calorie burner your body has is muscle. The best way to build muscle is to strength train, period. The idea here is that the more lean muscle mass you have on your body, the more calories your body will need use to just sustain life. Now don’t for a minute think that because you have the goal of adding muscle mass that you will get “bulky”, this will not happen, especially if you are a female. Getting “bulky” isn’t so easy that you can do it unintentionally. But you have to lift heavy to cause your body to feel the need to add muscle mass, so don’t be afraid to use more weight than you’re used to, but can lift with correct form. I generally build in at least one “strength” day a week into my programming for my clients.

Sweat every day

If your goal is weight loss, working out 2-3 days per week is not enough.  If your goal is weight loss, working out 2-3 days per week is not enough. Just like you need to make smart food choices day in, day out, you need to make physical activity a daily priority as well. Sweat every day for at least 30 minutes. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy; go for a hike, play with the kids, ice skate, power walk, play squash or racquet ball, anything. The key is, use your body. You spend 2-3 hours a week with your trainer building strength, mobility and endurance, what good is it if you don’t put it use. Enjoy what you can do today that you couldn’t do yesterday!

Eat 

This is the hardest concept for most people to comprehend. If your goal is weight loss, and you are being physically active, a huge reduction in daily calorie intake won’t work. If you are not fueling your body to recover from your workouts then you are doing yourself a great disservice. There are many different philosophies out there when it comes to eating. The best one that I have found, that works for almost everyone, is also the most difficult. It’s not difficult because you have to eat gross tasteless foods, or do some crazy juice fast to start it off or even go for long periods feeling hungry. It’s difficult because you have to eat; you have to eat more food than you think. “Grazing” is a concept of eating every 3-4 hours starting with breakfast no more than an hour after getting up. Three main meals a day; Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner with small snacks between at least breakfast and lunch as well as lunch and dinner. Eating breakfast is very important. It triggers your metabolism and tells your body that food is abundant and that it can use its own fat stores for additional energy without concern of a famine. Continuing to eat throughout the day reinforces this concept and will help your body to be comfortable with letting go of stored body fat. This is where I have an issue with “Apps” that tell you how many calories you have to eat in a day. Does that app take into account what physical activity you did or are going to do that day, or what you did the day before?  If you are serious about losing fat and changing your body composition for the rest of your life, then the changes you make have to be sustainable and realistic and work for you. Put down the app and make an appointment with a nutritionist or dietician who you can speak to face to face and work out a meal plan that works for your lifestyle, your likes and dislikes and your longevity. They are worth the investment if you are serious about making a change. Food is by far the most important step in any health, weight loss, vitality goal, don’t half ass it, take your needs to a subject matter expert, you’ll be shocked with the difference that it will make.

Drink

Water is the nectar of life. It will make or break any healthy living strategy including weight loss. Drink plenty of water. I really don’t think I have to say much more about this one. 2 or more litres per day is a good start.

 Sleep

The time that you spend in the gym is the time you spend doing “damage” to your body. You are forcing it to do things that it is not used to doing. You are causing it to say “holy crap! What just happened? I’d better add some muscle so that isn’t as hard next time”.  It is while you are resting, relaxing and most importantly, sleeping that your body does this. Aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep every night is tough. Believe me, I know. I get up at or before 5 am 5 days a week. As a 30 something male, it’s hard for me to force myself to go to bed before 9 pm most nights. But let me tell you, if I’m up past 11 pm more than a couple days in a row I’m useless. Sleep and recover, allow yourself time to recharge. You will see the changes in your body composition, energy levels and mood.

Own your choice

If you truly want to see results, I mean really want it, you have to prove it. Not to me, or to your kids or the friend that is helping keep you accountable. You have to prove it to yourself. If you make a decision to change, do all the way. Own the choice to make the change. Losing 20 – 50 lbs of body fat won’t happen on its own or overnight. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to take work. You’ll have ups and downs, hold on to your successes and let go of your failures. Dwell on your victories not your defeats. Part of owning your choice is giving it enough time to show you results, if the result isn’t what you were hoping for  after a few weeks or a month, make one small change and keep going, giving up because what you are doing isn’t ”working” is not owning anything. You spend 2-3 hour a week with your trainer, you spend 24 hours a day with yourself, following all the rules is up to you. Make the choice. Trust the process. Do it. Live it. See it. Own it!

Putting it all together

Ok so here it is. If you add muscle to your body, causing your body to need to use more calories in a day to just survive; If you are active every single day for at least 30 minutes, using your new strong body, enjoying life and burning calories without even thinking about it; If you get guidance from a nutritional expert and feed yourself enough healthy, nutrient rich food so that your body can recover from your workout as well as be convinced that there isn’t a famine and that it can sacrifice stored body fat; And if you can do it all with conviction, passion and trust, I can guarantee that you will see all the results that you have ever hoped for. If one of these is missing  or lacking, you will not see the results that you want. Make your focus the journey not the destination and you will be there before you know it.

Thanks for reading

Matt Kingstone

King Cobra Fit Personal Training

When am I going to see results?

This is the most valid and important question that any of my clients can ask me and it is also my least favorite question. Not for any other reason than it’s the most complicated question that my clients can ask me. I can give you a reason for every exercise, body position and tempo that I choose for you to do during a workout, but I can’t give you a straight answer for why/why not or when your body will burn body fat for fuel and you will start to lose weight. In a world where 1 + 1 = 2 and everything we want is at the touch of a button, the concept that 2 or 3 hours of exercise per week doesn’t translate into 1 Lbs of fat or weight lost on the scale is a very hard thing to wrap your head around. I will attempt to make sense of this confusing subject.

First of all, I think a little biology refresher is in order and I will try to keep it short and concise. Your body is made up of bone, adipose tissue (fat) and muscle. Of those three, muscle is the only one that uses the “energy” that you either eat or that is stored in your body as fat.  This means that the more muscle you have, the more energy your body needs to use to just survive, even just lying in bed (known as your Basal Metabolic Rate). Now, in order for all of your hard work to translate onto the scale you need to balance your food “energy” books, so to speak. The idea being that the energy that your body uses to just survive plus the energy required to do all the things that you fit in throughout that day; working out, going to work, taking the stairs, chasing the kids…..whatever you do, needs to equal the amount of food (“energy”) that you eat in that day or be greater, so that your body is now in a calorie deficit (the only time a deficit is a good thing haha). If this is the case your body will have to “tap into” it’s stored fat (energy) to make up the difference and voila, weight loss. I hope that makes sense. To say it another way, some scientists tried to put hard numbers to this situation. The math tells us that 3500 Kcal (the units that we measure food energy in) is equal to one pound of fat. So, if we spread that over seven days in the week, all you need to do is cut out or burn using activity or a combination of the two, 500 Kcals per day to reach one pound of fat lost every week. Easy right? Well if it was easy I wouldn’t be writing this. You must remember that your mom was right, you are unique.  All of your life’s experiences as well as your genetic make-up is what decides how, when and from where your body will “burn” fat and in turn, lose weight. It is also important to note that muscle weighs more than fat, as it is more dense, so it takes up less “space”. It is quite common for someone to trade out fat for muscle thus not showing a change on the scale. Is your head spinning yet? Are you still reading? I hope so, because knowledge is power, and knowledge with regards to your goals is the best way to reach them!

Ok, so forget about the math, forget about the Basal Metabolic Rate, forget about calorie deficits, let’s just call it what it is, Energy in Vs. Energy out. If you are using more energy than you are eating in a day then that can translate into weight loss. If you find that you have been training for a few months and are neither losing nor gaining any weight, that’s tells you that you are in an energy balance and if weight loss is your goal, a few small changes to the amount and/or type of calories you are eating may be all it will take to put you into a calorie deficit. So putting yourself in my shoes as your trainer, I hope you can now appreciate the complexity of the “when will I start losing weight” question. It’s not that I’m trying to use double talk to confuse you or keep stringing you along to keep you as a client while not providing result, my industry is based on “results”. It’s just that there isn’t a black and white answer to that question.

So where do we go from here? First, I really encourage you to read my blog “The 80/20 Rule of weight loss”; it speaks about how important your nutritional choices are to weight loss. And second, I firmly believe that we need to broaden our definition of “results”. If you are noticing that; your clothes fit differently, the stairs at home or that stupid hill you have to walk up to get to work is easier, or people are saying “wow, you look great. What have you been doing?” but the scale is not moving, are you not still seeing results? These are what I call the intangible tangibles and they are the things that we need to hold on to the strongest and loosen our grip on the scale. Every time you get to bring the belt in one notch, or notice that you are walking to work faster or have more energy in the day or get a complement, celebrate it! Find your way to make it a big deal. Seriously, buy a bag of gold stars and put one up every time one of those things happens; put a quarter or dollar in a jar (if I had a nickel for every time, blank, happened, I’d be rich), something to pat yourself on the back. You are doing this for yourself, but if you are only using the scale to quantify your “results” you are missing the point. I’m not saying never weigh yourself, but I am saying don’t obsess over the scale. If you are going to weigh yourself, make it once a week and try to make it the same day/time and scale every time. Trust and enjoy the process. Remember, it’s not the destination that defines us, but the journey itself.

Thanks for reading

Matt (King Cobra Fit)

Teaching is my tonic

I’m human. I get into bad moods; get tired; get grumpy. People have endless ways of getting out of blue spells; Exercising, eating, drinking, crying, yelling. I teach fitness. It doesn’t matter what mood I come into a fitness class in, I leave not thinking about what was bothering me and walk out feeling like I hit the reset button. And no, I don’t take out my frustrations on my class and beast them extra hard. I do what I always do, give the best class I can. If its a great class I leave feeling like a million bucks, if its an ok class, I leave feeling like half a million bucks. Either way, I feel much better than I did coming in.

I think the key is finding a way to gain some perspective on everything. Distract yourself from the emotions of the event and come back to it a little less bias, a little more clear on what’s important.

The next time you are burning in the face mad, tearing up sad or pulling your hair out frustrated, even if you don’t feel like it, take 30 – 60 mins and do that thing that lets you hit the reset button.

 

(my disclaimer, this is not the place for food, booze or drugs. Find a healthy distraction. Go for a run, play the guitar, take a walk, go to the beach. The key is to remove stressors not add them.)

 

As always, thanks for reading

Matt

King Cobra Fit

Start being a big baby, Part 1(breathing)

Babies are perfect. Many of the qualities or behaviors that babies display are uncorrupted, unadulterated, and natural. Their ability to perfectly squat, roll over, digest, breath, crawl, as well as make the most grumpy person smile is noting short of spectacular. There is a growing movement toward the inclusion of “primal movements” in personal training and group fitness classes (to those who take my classes, that’s what you call “foreshadowing”). Primal movements are just what they sound; movements that humans have not only been doing since the beginning of time but movements or behaviors that are the first things that we learn as babies. Those movements and behaviors are what I want to talk about in this series. The first, is also the most important “primal movement” you do and it technically isn’t a movement at all; per se.

How do you breath? I mean physically breath. Are you a chest breather or a belly breather? Stop reading and take three normal breaths. I’ll wait. The majority of you are chest breathers. I’m a chest breather, I can admit it but I pledge to change that, and I’ll tell you why. The diaphragm is your “prime” mover when it comes to breathing; your prime movers are the muscles that do the most work during a movement or action and your assister muscles, the ones that help out, when breathing are your external intercostal muscles and internal intercostal muscles (the muscles in between your ribs). If you are a chest breather you use mostly intercostal muscles and less diaphragm, if you are a belly breather you use your diaphragm more. It makes sense to use the prime mover more than the others, does it not? What does this have to do with a baby you ask? Ever watched a baby breath while sleeping or laying on his/her back? Is it their chest or belly that raises up and down? Most of the time it will be very distinctly their stomach. Your diaphragm is located just below your lunges. It pulls your lunges down and sucks air into your lunges. That action of the diaphragm pulling down pushes you lower visceral organs (intestines, stomach, liver ect) out; making your belly stick out. This accentuation of the “gut” may be a huge reason why we move away from being belly breathers. Take another three normal breaths and pay attention to how much air you can take in (don’t cheat and belly breath if you didn’t before), now take three breaths and in-vision that your are breathing air into your stomach. Which method allowed you to take the deeper breath? If it wasn’t the belly breathing you did something wrong. Haha just kidding, but really I think you might have, try sitting up tall. The ability to breath is essential to life. No breath means no life. So being able to maximize your breath should be something that takes precedence over appearance. I know, I hate how my belly sticks out when I belly breath too. But if it means being able to take in more air (oxygen) to allow me to work, train or be active longer in duration (both in a workout and life) I’ll give it a try. Hey, I’ll try anything once, twice if it tastes good. I know it seems like a pretty small inconsequential thing to change but we need to start with our foundation. Breathing allows life.

Whats that; your trainer always harps on “keep a tight core”? And belly breathing feels like your core is loose. Having a tight or engaged core is important but there is more to a strong core than just abdominal and postural muscles. What is interesting is that having full or partially lungs, like you should at the bottom of a squat, actually provides intera-abdominal pressure which causes core stability. Breath is the glue that holds it all together.

So breathing is the foundation, where do we go from here? Well if the first thing that you do when you are born is breath, the next movement you do is as primal as it gets (get your mind out of the gutter!). You roll over. Rolling is an amazingly simple concept but is also shockingly difficult to do as we get older and start letting our limbs do all of the work. I’ll tell you what I’m talking about next time.

Again, Thanks for reading

Matt

(King Cobra Fit)

Make that treat your bitch!

The secret to making any diet or healthy living plan successful is longevity. It has to be something that you can maintain. With Halloween having just passed us by, leaving a trail of candy wrappers in its wake, I feel that it’s important to have a strategy in place to allow yourself to enjoy this time of year without feeling guilty. It’s also a great dry run for Christmas; a time of year where food is the focus of many events that you’ll attend. If you love a sweet treat now and again, but feel like you’ve just committed a capital offence by eating it then you are not allowing yourself to enjoy everything that a holiday has to offer and are setting yourself up for failure. Sweets are good, and I would argue that they are good for your mental well being….in moderation. But they are only good for you if you saver every second while eating them. If you’re just chucking them in your mouth with no mindfulness, you are abusing them.

One of the best strategies I’ve heard for allowing yourself to enjoy the odd treat at festive times of the year is to actually ENJOY them. If you’re having a mini chocolate bar, A) make sure that it’s your favourite and 2) see how long you can make it last. Saver every second each little bit is in your mouth. Make it a special occasion all of its own. I put a question out to my Facebook followers (King Cobra Fit) asking what their favourite Halloween candy is and one of my clients said she loves the mini coffee crisps and she loves to eat them layer by layer. That is a great way to eat them. Find a way to enjoy your treat. Own the decision to eat it. Make that treat, whatever it may be, the best treat you’ve ever had. This will maximize your enjoyment and will help stave off your craving for it. I know it sounds weird but it’s true. If you absolutely enjoy your treat you will feel satisfied and it will be easier to say “no thank you” to another one. Just be sure that your serving size is not ridiculous, not a whole cake, just a small slice, and enjoy every morsel of it. Remember, OWN the decision to eat it, its your choice, you don’t have to eat it, so make it worth it.

Thanks for reading

Matt

(King Cobra Fit)

Bahh Bahh Black sheep, why are you so injured?

As a professional Certified Personal Trainer and a Fitness Instructor my goal is to help people become their best. I know that people come to my classes or sessions expecting a fun, challenging and safe workout. I don’t get asked “why am I doing this exercise” very often, but when I do, I always have an answer. There is a reason behind all of the exercises that I choose. The problem with the fitness industry is not enough people ask “why am I doing this exercise ”. Many people take what their trainer is telling them to do and do it blindly. Now to be clear, I’m not telling you to question everything your trainer is telling you to do. If they are experienced, educated and passionate 9 times out of 10 you will be fine. But if an exercise makes you stop and think “whoa, this seems unsafe”, ask the question.

This has to be one of my biggest concerns with the fitness industry today. Too many people are more interested in “looking hard as fuck” doing an exercise, than being interested in understanding where in their daily lives this movement will help them. The handstand pushup is a prime example of this. To perform a handstand pushup you get in to the handstand position, most likely against a wall, and then you bend your arms, lowering your head toward the floor and press back up to straight arms. Impressive to watch, yes, but why the hell are people doing high repetition of this ridiculous movement? What happened to the risk/benefits analysis? When you are choosing an exercise you have to ask yourself two questions. 1) Is there a better way to train this movement pattern or muscle group and 2) Is there a safer way to train this movement pattern or muscle group. If you answer yes to either one of those questions, you need to rethink your exercise choice. To the handstand pushup the answer to both of those questions is yes. How about a standing, seated, half kneel or high kneeling shoulder press; don’t have any weights but have a partner? Try a partner shoulder press. I chose to pick on the handstand pushup because I feel that it is a perfect example of the need for the “why am I doing this exercise” question in fitness. The ability to do a handstand is very impressive; I’m not trying to dissuade anyone from practising and becoming proficient at doing a handstand. However, not everyone has the shoulder stability, balance and strength to do a handstand pushup, therefore not everyone should do them, I would argue that there are very few people who should be doing them.

The point of training and exercising is to enhance your quality of life, be more efficient doing your ADL’s (Activities of Daily Living) and have a little fun in the process; it is not to look like a “Boss” doing a movement or spend months rehabbing an injury that was totally avoidable by stepping out of the herd of sheep and asking WHY!

Thanks for reading

Matt Kingstone

King Cobra Fit

A thank you

Every now and again I’m so humbled and grateful for those around me. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to accomplish something and look back at the help you received, little or big and know that without that help it would have been much more difficult or impossible. This is my way of saying thank you.

Today was my first attempt at a “Flash Mob”. But not just any Flash Mob, a Bootcamp Flash Mob. Now, what does every Flash Mob need? That’s right, people.  When most people hear Flash Mob they think “Sweet, sign me up”. However, when those same people hear Bootcamp Flash Mob, they say “sounds like fun. Let me know how it goes”. Without people a Flash Mob is all but useless.

My Bootcamp Flash Mob today was anything but useless. From my Girl Friend that stayed up till 2 Am helping me make T-Shirt to the buddy who made some phone calls and rallied a few more troops, then shows up wearing an afro wig and bright orange knee high socks (it was priceless); From The late additions that felt every foot step in their hung over heads, to the supportive mom who was right there with all the “youngling”, showing that there is no age limit on fitness; A borrowed Iron from a friend there in spirit and who could forget the roommate that’s, down for pretty much whatever.

We ran, we sweated, we cheered and yeah there were a few dirty looks, but what bootcamp is complete without a few of those. Everyone put on a smile, had a good time and helped promote a friends or acquaintances budding small business, because I asked for a “small” favor. A thousand times, thank you

It’s easy to get caught up in your own world and what you are trying to accomplish, but if you don’t stop and acknowledge those that helped you along the way big or small, before you know it you’re doing it alone and that’s really no fun.

Thank you for reading

Matt Kingstone – King Cobra Fit