Stop Fearing Carbs In 2018

Let’s set the tone early for the entire year – Carbohydrates are fantastic!

Do me a favor and go to the whiteboard on the fridge, the to-do-list or write directly on your bathroom mirror…

Carbs are not the devil

Carbs are not the devil

Carbs are not the devil

Carbs are not the devil

Carbs are not the devil

Carbs are not the devil

Carbs are not the devil


Think quality over quantity in 2018

All carbs are not created equal. The biggest differences between healthy and unhealthy carbs are the affects on blood sugar and digestion.


  • Carbs get consumed.
  • The body breaks them down into sugar.
  • The sugars first go to the liver to fill up energy stores – glycogen.
  • Once the energy stores are filled, the additional sugars spill out into the blood stream and other cells of the body.
  • The body releases insulin to handle the extra sugar in the body.

Healthy carbs – vegetables, fruits, oatmeal, beans and whole grains are digested slowly, helping to sustain energy levels and body composition.

Unhealthy carbs– sugary drinks and refined carbs like crackers and chips digest very quickly. The quick absorption takes sugar and insulin on a roller coaster ride. This can lead to the body becoming insulin resist (bad for a host of things – cholesterol, triglycerides, body composition) and poor energy levels.

Things to know

  • How fast carbs are digested and absorbed will impact body composition. Slow digestion is optimal.
  • Tolerance to different carbohydrates varies among individuals.
  • Body size, muscle mass and activity levels determine how many grams of carbs should be consumed each day.
  • Fast digesting carbs are good before, during and after your workout. A carb/protein drink before/during/post workout will improve your training session and lay the groundwork for faster recovery.
  • Fiber is a game changer- Fiber helps control blood sugar and fullness, as well as a host of health benefits. Try to get 25 grams per day.
  • The consumption of carbs with fats and proteins changes digestion and sugar response.

As you can see, digestion and controlling blood sugars is the common theme not only for good health, but also for body composition.

Look how much you can eat!

Let’s use a fictitious women as an example. We will call her Destiny. No are fictitious women is not a stripper. Destiny is not active, but she’s eats well and maintains her weight and body composition consuming roughly on 1,600 calories a day. After some math we calculated that 40% of her diet is coming from carbohydrates – 640 calories or 160 grams of carbs.

1,600 calories x 40% = 640……..640/4 calories per 1 gram of carbs = 160 grams.

A typical day of carbs for Destiny

22 carbs, 120 cals – 100% whole wheat english muffin

20 carbs, 112 cals – 1/2 cup black beans

21 carbs, 90 cals – 3 cups of broccoli

45 carbs, 180 cals – carbs added to her post-workout recovery shake (fruits or simple sugars from honey, juice, etc)

5 carbs, 20 cal – almonds

19 carbs, 72 cal – apple

26 carbs, 112 cals – sweet potato

Stop fearing and start eating….the right ones!

Focus on eating slow digesting, high fiber carbs in 2018 and good things will happen.

  • Vegetables – Fill up your plate with them.
  • Fruits – 1-3 servings a day. Stick with high fiber berries and citrus.
  • Beans – Any kind.
  • Whole grains – Oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa…..
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Nuts and seeds

Keep moving,

Coach Dom

Create An Environment That Breeds Success

I really want you to achieve your fitness resolutions this year. I can provide you useful information and hopefully some motivation, but it’s your personal responsibility. You’ll succeed if the desire to change is strong and you are willing to dedicate the time and energy. Without these two things, these are just words on a screen.

Control Your Environment

Try a new approach this year. Think long-term. Forget about the trendy new diet or how you are going to crush workouts everyday until you burn out in a month. Instead, focus on taking control of your environment.

Your environment consists of everywhere you spend your time

  • Your home
  • Work
  • Gym
  • Parks and facilities where your children play sports

Being in control at work will require you to keep a quality protein powder and a stash of good snacks like nuts and fruit. You’ll leave your desk and find a place to eat your lunch.  You’ll ask your co-workers to be respectful of your goals and not to offer you sweets and candy.  Taking control of your work environment will prove if you are truly dedicated. You see, everyone is going to know how bad you want this. They’ll also know if you quit.

What are you doing for food and drink when you have to spend the entire weekend at the ball park for your sons baseball tournament? Invest in a small cooler bag and be prepared, so you aren’t hitting up the concession stand.

Your environment also consists of people

Your family, friends, co-workers, training partner and personal trainer are also part of your environment.  These people can either help or hurt your success.  All these people can be toxic to your environment if you let them. That trainer who’s on the phone, looking at the young booty’s walking by, sitting you down on machine after machine, occasionally saying, “that’s good, one more” is toxic. He does not care about your goals. If you hire a trainer, make sure you are hiring a fitness professional.

Training Environment

Your training environment is not something you should take lightly. You are going to be spending 3-6 hours a week at this place. If you are training at a gym make sure it is right for your situation. Our newest member Doug, said this to me while signing up, “I visited every gym in town and I knew this was the right one because it felt like home.” Make sure you are in a positive, encouraging environment that cares about you.

 Create an environment that breeds success

  • Personal motivation is necessary. What is your motivation?
  • Don’t make the same mistakes you’ve made in the past.
  • You are in control of your environment. Don’t make it toxic.

Keep moving,

Coach Dom

The Hierarchy Of Fat Loss

It’s the second day of 2018 and time to get after it. Fat loss is always on top of the resolution list, so let’s have a refresher on the hierarchy of fat loss. I first learned to explain the hierarchy of fat loss by my mentor Alwyn Cosgrove nine years ago. It holds true to this day and will forever. Losing fat isn’t easy. In the words of John McCullum, “there are no magic potions and there isn’t any wonder system. You’ll reach your goals one way and one way only. That’s by good nutrition and intelligent, planned physical effort, backed by an intense and consuming desire.”

Let’s make 2018 a year of strength, wellness and laughter.

The Hierarchy of Fat Loss

#1. Correct nutrition – You will not ‘out-train’ poor nutrition. You can train like a crazy person and get a good level of fitness, but you’ll still be fat.  Correct nutrition means eating unprocessed whole foods- Vegetables, fruits, lean meats, seafood, nuts, whole grains and good fats 80-90% of the time.

#2. Correct nutrition – No this isn’t a typo.  If you want to lose fat you have to be aware of how many calories you are consuming.  That means not drinking sodas and juices. It means cutting way back on your servings of breads, pastas and potatoes.  It means controlling your portions.  It means learning your way around the kitchen.  It means taking time to pack a lunch. It means starting your day with a protein rich breakfast.  It means not having a heavy hand when pouring wine.  Don’t try to make all these changes at once.  Focus on one change at a time.

#3. Movement that builds muscle, increases metabolism and burns calories.  This is strength training also referred to as weight training or resistance training. Muscle is a big component of our metabolism. The more muscle the more energy (calories) required.  We tend to focus on the one hour a day we commit to fitness. What about the other 23 hours? An intense bout of strength training or interval training can keep your metabolism elevated for up to 48 hours! Strength training is the foundation for everything else.

#4. Movement that maintains muscle, increases metabolism and burns calories.  This is interval training or circuit training. Circuit training consists of doing short intervals of intense work followed by a rest period followed by more work.  Circuits are a great way to train the entire body each session.  Like strength training, if the intensity is high enough, you’ll keep your body burning calories all day. Single arm concentration curls and high reps on the leg splitter machine won’t cut it. Squats, deadlifts, pushups, pull ups, sprints and other movements that place a high demand on the body are essential.

#5. Movement that burns calories.  You should follow two rules when it comes to burning calories.

  • Do something.
  • Do something you like.  Everything you do burns calories. Jog, Bike, Paddle board, play a sport. Just do something!

Correct nutrition is the core of a fat loss program. Nutrition will fuel your workouts and help you recover from them.  You don’t have to be perfect with nutrition to get great results.  Start by making one change.  I recommend doing two strength training sessions and two circuit training sessions a week. Every other day you should be doing something you like to do that involves the heart to pump a little faster and makes you breathe a little harder  When your body feels like it needs a break, give it a break.   Give maximum effort and hang in there.  Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.

Keep Moving,

Coach Dom

Fitness Mistakes To Avoid In 2018 – Part 3

Training individual body parts

As a young lad my objective was to build muscle. I would do set after set, training an individual muscle to fatigue, because that’s what the bodybuilding magazines said you had to do. The body part trained that day would be completely sore for a couple days, while I trashed another body part. I would then repeat beating up that body part again the following week. I trained like this for about six years.

It wasn’t until I did my internship with a strength coach, named J.C. Santana, that I started to understand different methodologies of training. This is when I started to learn about things like:

  • Training movements, not individual muscles.
  • Training for performance, not just hypertrophy.
  • The importance of frequency (how often you train a particular muscle group).
  • The role of the central nervous system.

During this time I became exposed to other great coaches like Vern Gambetta, Mark Verstegen, Mike Boyle and Mike Burgener, who I learned how to train to the 4th power, most of the time.

Train to the 4th power

  • Is the exercise ground-based (are you standing up while doing the exercise)
  • Is the exercise a free weight exercise.
  • Does the exercise work multiple muscle groups and joints.
  • Is the exercise done in an explosive manner.

Everyday people

  • I train everyday people like myself. People that have professions, children and busy lives.
  • People that can usually commit 3-6 hours a week to structured exercise and movement.
  • For the most part, their profession has them sitting all day or at least a good portion of the day. This includes sitting in a car while driving to work.
  • Their goals are to change their physique, improve strength, daily function and overall conditioning.

The body is one piece

Muscles don’t work in isolation. The body is one piece with all of its parts working together to produce smooth, efficient movement.

As I mentioned above, the majority of us (everyday people) are trying to accomplish all the aspects of fitness in a few hours a week. The last thing we need to be doing is sitting on a machine doing isolated bicep curls or leg extensions. Instead you could be doing a goblet squat that involves the arms, shoulders, midsection and the entire lower body. Think “bang-for-your-buck” in 2018.

Do this not that in 2018

  • Squats instead of leg extensions on a machine – You squat and bend every single day of your life. The squat is a foundational move that should be trained even if it’s just using your own bodyweight. The leg extension is good for bodybuilders who need to make the rectus femoris muscle really pop, but not much else.
  • Single arm dumbbell or kettlebell standing overhead press instead of machine shoulder press – This exercise requires your midsection to brace (tighten) hard so you can generate the force required to press the weight overhead.
  • Chest supported dumbbell rows instead of isolated bicep curls (rowing patterns work the large back muscles and the biceps).
  • Push ups – When done correctly (nose to the ground, arms fully straight at the top of each rep) this exercise does wonders. It works the shoulders, chest, triceps (the flapping part of the arm every women hates) and midsection.  Women often avoid them because they lack the upper body strength that is required. Men skip them for fancier exercises like the bench press.  There aren’t many exercises better than the push up. Learn to do them well and do them often in 2018.

Keep moving,

Coach Dom


Fitness Mistakes You Should Stop Making In 2018- Part 2

Too Much Variety

Variety is good within a structured program, but hopping to new programs every two weeks or new modalities of exercise will cost you. The cost is usually results.

Everyone we work with wants to improve the look of their body. This requires a few things:

  • Proper nutrition
  • Strength training
  • Conditioning

In the words of 8-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman, “Everybody wants to be a bodybuilder, but don’t nobody want to lift these heavy-ass weights.”

We may not be trying to be Mr. or Mrs. Olympia, but if changing your physique is a goal, weightlifting is required.

Strength training

  • Bodyweight training- Push ups, pull ups, lunging, squatting and sprinting to name a few.
  • Weight lifting – Barbells, Dumbbells, Kettlebells, rocks, sandbags…..lift anything that puts stress on your muscles!

The term “same, but different”, that Paval Tsatsouline likes to use is how we should look at variety when it comes to lifting weights. If I think squatting is good in someones program, then they will always do squats. It might be a goblet squat, a kettlebell racked front squat or a barbell back squat. Same, but different.


The majority of us want to move pain free, be strong and look good. Your conditioning training is where you can have the most variety. I still think full body interval circuits are the best for fitness and body composition, but everything works. My biggest piece of advice for conditioning would be to do what is appropriate for you!

  • If you are 50lbs overweight, running may not be the best choice. The additional weight creates a lot of stress on the hips, knees and ankles. Instead you can swim, bike, do high-rep kettlebell swings, push sleds and do bodyweight moves in a circuit fashion.
  • A video of non-stop Jumping and hopping for an hour is not “plyometric” training. It’s stupid training that will leave you hurt. Research and educate yourself before you jump into programs. You can also hire a good coach to teach you how to train safely and effectively.
  • Know thyself and choose options that are joint-friendly and appropriate for you.

Proper Nutrition

Limit your options and make a few rules that you take seriously.  That’s my advice on eating well in 2018.


  • Option 1
    • Eggs, meat,veggies,beans, cheese
  • Option 2
    • Steel cut oatmeal, protein powder and berries.

These will be my two main options the majority of 2018.


  • Option 1
    • Protein, vegetables, carbs.
      • chicken and shrimp stir fry’s, grilled chicken thighs covered in sauteed mushrooms and onions, pork tenderloin and sweet potato. Things like this.


  • Only one option
    • Nuts and fruit

Can’t get much easier than that.


  • Have a plan for the week.
  • Protein and vegetables make up the majority of your plate.
  • Control portions.
  • Slow down and enjoy time with the family.


  • No beer.
  • 3 drinks per week.

The challenge is in the doing

It always looks easy on paper. The hard part is lifting those heavy-ass weights, breaking a sweat, not succumbing to Random Thursday Pizza and getting right back on track if you do happen to veer off the path.

It’s time to pull out The Calendar , schedule your workouts, compile recipes and make a few simple rules that are doable. Then do it.

Keep moving,

Coach Dom

Fitness Mistakes You Should You Stop Making In 2018

We are down to the last four weeks of 2017. At this point, you either had a good year with your fitness and health or you did not. Either way, we should start wrapping our heads around 2018. Over the next four weeks I am going to provide a few things that are a must and a few mistakes you should avoid.

Must do of the week – Create a simple plan

Simple is the key word. I always like to re-visit the basics to start the new year because most of the time that’s all we need to do. Here would be an example:

  • Eat a quality protein source at every meal.
    • Not sure about quality protein sources? Learn by the end of the week.
  • Prioritize four days a week that you will perform a reasonable workout.
    • I learned the term “reasonable workouts” from Coach Dan John. It simply means do workouts that are challenging, but aren’t crushing you. If you can handle more, fine. If you can only manage three, that’s fine too.
  • Make sleep a priority.
    • If you plan on taking your fitness and health seriously, better sleep is essential. This could mean less wine in the evening or turning off the electronics and TV an hour earlier.
  • I will listen to my body.
    • Every year I get better and better at this one. For most of 2017 I felt great. Of course, there were a couple times I didn’t listen to my body. During these times I still trained, but my workouts suffered due to working around a nagging joint.

Start with doing what is necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.


Not creating a simple plan

Yeah I know, we need to create a goal first. I say, let’s start with the basic necessities because your goals are just dreams without the basics already in place. You would probably have much success if you focused entirely on the four things I mentioned above.

Before you run off and start a keto diet, intermittent fasting or some other hot topic, lock down the basics for six months.

Not journaling

Journaling your food and your training sessions is the single best thing you can do to help you achieve results.


  • Track what you eat – calories, carbs, protein, fat.
  • Pay attention to how you feel after a meal.
  • What mood were in when you ate?
  • Were you eating with someone? Alone? At you desk?


  • Duration
  • Load – weights lifted
  • Repetitions
  • Sets/circuits
  • Rest periods between exercises and sets
  • How did you feel afterwards?

These are very simple words of advice that stand the test of time. Don’t try to re-invent the wheel in 2018.

Keep moving,

Coach Dom



My #1 Tip For Weight Management

The guests have returned home and the leftovers and desserts are gone. It’s time to right the ship and bring balance back to eating. My diet was completely out of balance Thursday-Sunday and that’s okay. What would not be okay is letting it ride and nutritional freestyle my way through Christmas.

Nutritional Freestyling – Randomly eating whatever, whenever, wherever when hunger strikes. No plan exists and bad choices are often made.

An old story I wrote paints a pretty good picture about “righting the ship” and keeping balance in your diet.

The Blown Tire Syndrome

Another work week is in the books and you’ve been perfect all week with your nutrition and exercise plan. You ate breakfast every day, packed a healthy lunch and snacks to take to work, and got to the gym four times. You even scheduled a Saturday bike ride with some friends. Your feeling good about the week and are glad the weekend is here, so you join some co-workers for happy hour. You know its okay because you are just going to “have one”.

 The first drink hits your lips and the unwinding begins. Jokes are being told and good times are being had by all. Someone decides to order a couple of appetizers, because, unlike you they didn’t have a midday snack. You’re not really hungry but the one appletini has already become two and it has increased your appetite, like all alcohol does, so you decide to grab a chip and start to dip. Damn, the chip broke as you were trying to scoop that hunk of artichoke. It’s rude to leave half a chip in the bowl so without thought you scoop again. This time you were so successful, you decided to keep going as if you were on a roll at the craps table. Oh snap, you got some on your knuckle.  You’ve officially blown a tire and veered completely off  your nutrition plan.

What the hell? Who ordered these shots? There goes your testosterone production for the next 24 hours along with tire number two.

You somehow managed to get out of there three hours later with two tires intact. Now you’re really hungry and you begin to search for cheap, convenient prey.  Your choices are bountiful as their bright signs light up the night’s sky, beckoning you with the scents of greasy flesh and salty goodness.  It calls to you, ‘your precious’ and your willpower crumbles like crispy bacon. Ummmmm, bacon!

You pull into your driveway on your unicycle; tread worn thin, air slowly seeping out of the last tire. You get a call from a friend who is having a barbecue tomorrow.  Pop! Tire four bursts.  You text your friends, cancelling your bike ride, waving good bye to all the hard work you put in during the week.  Pass the Sangria and let’s get this fiesta started! Vamanos!

We all blow tires. Stopping and fixing the tire will determine how successful you are at fat loss and weight management.

Keep moving,

Coach Dom

21-Day Holiday Hold’em Challenge

I’m not really sure how it happened, but Thanksgiving is in a few days.  Every year we hear how the average person gains 7-10lbs between Thanksgiving and New Year. The truth is more like 1-3lbs. This doesn’t sound like much, but we are talking a little over one month. A couple of pounds isn’t really the issue. It’s the Holiday mindset that can totally derail months of hard work.

The golden rule of the holidays is to enjoy them. Everyone has their own interpretation of enjoy. Some families sing and harmonize Christmas carols, bake endless desserts and sip sparkling grape juice. While other families drink, play games, drink while playing games and play drinking games. Enjoy how you like, but don’t forget about your fitness.

The 24- Day Holiday Hold Em Challenge – 12/1- 12/24

I like to promote maintenance during the holidays. We want everyone to maintain their body composition as well as their strength and conditioning levels. We help our members maintain by creating twenty challenges to complete on top of their normal training sessions. We call it the Holiday Hold Em Challenge (members pick up your playing cards at the front desk), because like a game of poker, a draw is better than a losing hand. Or in this case, a jollier version of ourselves.

No stress, no guilt

  • During the next month vow not to create additional stress in your life.
  • Do not stress about the additional guest coming to Thanksgiving dinner at your house. Instead, rejoice and be thankful that you have people that want to come to your house.
  • Don’t stress about your travels. Enjoy the laughs and adventure that lie before you.
  • Most importantly, don’t stress or feel guilty about eating, drinking and living.

Now do not put words in my mouth. My statement above should not translate to, “Coach Dom said get drunk, eat pie and devour Hickory Farm beef sticks every chance we can get.” You can eat, drink and have fun without losing control. Have a plan. Christmas parties and events don’t randomly happen. You know when they are, so plan around them. If you eat well about 80% of the time and continue to do your workouts you’ll be fine.

Be thankful for your health and keep moving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Strive For Fitness Profits

I once had someone ask me if I thought it was a good idea to put Breakthrough Fitness core value #7 out there for everyone to see.

Our #7 core value is Strive for Profitability. I think the person read it as “It’s all about the Benjamin’s” instead of the steps that go into making a profit.

A business that doesn’t make a profit doesn’t stay in business long-term.

For a business to be profitable, two things always need to happen:

  • They must provide value.
  • They must always provide this value (consistency).

So, no I don’t have a problem being transparent about striving for profitability. Because a profit shows me that we are focusing on value and consistency.

Is your fitness profitable?

The same rules for a profitable business apply to fitness. If you aren’t making gainz (profits), fitness will probably not be a long-term endeavor.

It comes down to value and consistency.

Do you place value on your health?

What about your ability to perform physical tasks and move freely with coordination and stamina?

Do you value your physique?

If you truly consider these things important, you will consistently strive for fitness profitability.

Fitness & health profits could be:

  • Eating 20+ grams of fiber every day.
  • Strenuous exercise 3-4 x per week.
  • Daily walking and gentle movement.
  • Eating a handful of nuts daily.
  • Meditating.
  • Journaling.
  • Drinking water.
  • Laughing.

Get out of the mindset that fitness profits only have to be the big accomplishments like dropping a bunch of weight or gaining muscle. Focus on the little things and the big things will happen.

Since it’s November, a good fitness profit might be not gaining weight during the holidays. Well that’s a coincidence, we have our Holiday Hold’em program starting 12/1!

Oh, don’t judge the plug, it’s for the greater good. If people sign up for the challenge we can make a profit that can be used to buy Christmas goodies for the gym!

Just hear those kettlebells ringing and free weights ring-tingling too….come on it’s lovely weather to go pushing a sled together with you!

Keep moving,

Coach Dom


When You Are Through Learning, You Are Through

The best learning comes from mistakes and I’ve made plenty. I’ve made mistakes in relationships, my personal life and business. What I like most about mistakes is that it means you are doing something and trying to get better.

Doers make mistakes

When I finally committed to becoming a personal trainer, I fell back on what I learned in school/books, my own training experiences and common sense.

You learn real fast that everything you know is useless when the person you are working with has to sit down due to nausea and dizziness three minutes into a warm up. Yep, a 4-year degree, top notch certification and common sense came in handy on that one. All I could do was stand there with a dumb ass expression on my face. For those that know me well, you know I have mastered the expression of dumb ass. Practice makes perfect.

Another fast track to learning is the excitement of getting a new client when you are broke, but eager. This new client has been inactive, but is healthy, not overweight and motivated. Your eagerness to really set the tone that first workout, leads to crushing the poor lady with soreness and a pulled intercostal muscle (muscle between the ribs). It was like going on a first date and talking nothing but puppy dogs and ice cream and the girl thought she was going on a date with a man. Hmmm, I wonder why she isn’t returning my calls?

What do you do when a breast cancer survivor joins your gym and tells you about her multiple surgeries.  She tells you how the only thing they could do for reconstruction was to detach the lat muscle (that’s the big back muscle), wrap it around the front and attach it to the sternum to support the implant. Back to the drawing board…

All of this makes me think back to a casual conversation I had with my urologist while he was performing my vasectomy. He finishes one side and says, “See, it’s easy. Do you want to do the other side?” No, Kevin Hart did not perform my vasectomy.  As we talked further, he said something that really stuck with me – “Anyone can do it when it’s easy, but what about when it’s not?”

Core Value # 7 – Constantly learn, always improve

I’m constantly trying to improve. Improvement mostly happens through experience. I also read, attend conferences, network, listen to podcasts and research new ideas.

Nobody cares until you do

You should be constantly learning and trying to improve when it comes to your fitness and health.  Once you care, the people you choose to be around will care. It’s okay if you went a decade putting everyone else first and letting your health and fitness slide. That decade is part of your personal experience. That time period will not be forgotten once you make the commitment to putting yourself first.

Learning and improving isn’t always easy. We all have our struggles and obstacles we need to overcome. We have to get past the fear and whatever else is holding us back from becoming better.

There is beauty in the struggle.

Keep moving,

Coach Dom