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High Functioning Shoulders – not just for baseball players!

Posted by tdifranc on January 5, 2014

Sometimes I feel like I work in a “basketball bubble” which is just fine with me because it is by far my favorite sport to play or watch. Most people do not think basketball and think “overhead sport”, but trust me basketball players spend plenty of time with their arms overhead. Rebounding, passing, receiving passes, dunking, shooting, and even defending in the game of basketball all require overhead work. Poorly functioning rotator cuff/scapular musculature combined with the repetitive overhead work described above is a great recipe for shoulder impingement or other overuse pathology.

Sneaky overhead work requirements show up in other sports and activities of daily living as well. My point is that even athletes/people who don’t play a traditional overhead sport need high functioning shoulders and a few simple steps can be taken towards this!

Toss several basic arm exercise program exercises like the ones shown in the video below into your training a few days a week to help you avoid nagging shoulder overuse injuries…even if you are not a baseball player.

How Many/How Often/Cues:

– Theraband Half-Kneel External Rotation: 2 x 8-12 reps (until fatigue/form erodes); 2-3 times per week; Stay tall in the half-kneeling position without rocking back into lumbar extension; Maintain a “chin-tuck” position (double-chin); Keep shoulder blades down and back.

– Val-Slide Wall-Slide: Adopted from Mike Reinold – an expert in optimally functioning shoulders! 2 x 10-20 reps (until fatigue/form erodes); 2-3 times per week; Squeeze the glutes and pull your belly-button towards your chin (neutral pelvis position); Avoid “sagging” towards the wall; Here is a great post and progression related to this exercise from Mike.

– Standing Inverted Wall Plank: Adopted from Dan John – one of my favorite experts in this field who happens to have worked with “throwing” athletes for longer than I have been alive! 2-3 x 10-45 seconds (until fatigue/form erodes); 2-3 times per week; Squeeze the glutes and pull your belly-button towards your chin (neutral pelvis position); There should be space between the wall and your spine from top to bottom; Maintain a “chin-tuck” position (double-chin); Avoid shrugging the shoulders.

Bonus Info: If you are a baseball player, this BASIC batch of rotator cuff/scapular musculature exercises probably will not cut it for you to achieve optimal shoulder function. Eric Cressey is the expert in this area in my opinion! I highly recommend tapping into his expertise/resources for baseball specific training. His new High Performance Handbook is a great place to start!!!


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Best Body Recipe: Pastured Princess’s Loaded Baked Potato Soup…Sans Potato

Posted by tdifranc on January 3, 2014

This soup will fill you up, fight inflammation and make you swear it’s loaded with potatoes/carbs…but it’s NOT! If dairy intolerance is an issue for you read this excellent post from Mark Sisson. If you are still scared of healthy saturated fat you will enjoy this post by Dr. Cate Shanahan. 


1 Large or 2 small heads of organic cauliflower

2 T Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive oil

½ Small organic yellow onion, chopped

3 Cups homemade chicken stock

¾ Cup grass fed smoked cheddar cheese + more for garnish

2 Tbsp salted grass fed butter

¼ cup + 2 Tbsp organic/pastured heavy whipping cream

Salt and pepper to taste


3-4 Slices cooked, crispy nitrate free/humanely raised pork bacon + more for garnish

Pastured Sour cream or Creme Fraiche (optional)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove stem and all greens from cauliflower. Chop into medium sized florets and rinse. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and add a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Roast cauliflower for 25 to 35 minutes or until starting to brown. Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon of butter to a saucepan or small Dutch oven and heat to medium. Add chopped onion and sauté until tender. Add chicken stock and cauliflower to onions and simmer for 10 minutes. Mash cauliflower with a potato masher and simmer another 5 minutes. Turn stove down to low to keep soup warm. With an immersion blender, blend cauliflower until completely combined. Add ¼ cup heavy cream and 1 tablespoon butter and blend again until creamy. Add shredded smoked cheddar and crumbled bacon and stir. Serve warm and garnish with chopped scallion, shredded cheese, bacon crumbles and a dollop of sour cream if you prefer.


Serving Size: 1 medium sized bowl

Total Fat: 23.5g/serving

Saturated Fat: 8g/serving

Protein: 8.5g/serving

Total Carbohydrate: 5.5g/serving

Sugar: <1g/serving

Fiber: 2g/serving

Calories: 527/serving

Prep Time – 20 mins; Cook time – 45 mins; Total time – 65 mins; Servings – 4-6

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Best Body Tool: Side Planks 101

Posted by tdifranc on December 27, 2013

Before you dive into a New Year’s Resolution to attack those love handles with crazy core training make sure you have the dirt on how to train the core the right way! Do not spend a bunch of time, money or energy on reaching your training goals just to end up hurting yourself…do it the right way. Start with a quick peek at the Secrets to Training the Core the Right Way post I did, and then hit up my post on 5 Ways to Fix Your Front Plank.

Follow that up with the simple but critical points of emphasis in the video below, and you will have trainers at the gym coming up to you asking for advice! One more thing – you will also have a core made of steel sans nagging injuries…

Enjoy and if you love training/nutrition based on science & results vs. tradition check out more on Twitter & Instagram: @tdathletesedge

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Best Body Recipe: Pastured Princess’s Kale & Beet Salad

Posted by tdifranc on September 13, 2013

Mom was right all along! It really truly is critical that we get our greens. Not from a freeze-dried/ultra processed green powder or pill either. We all remember and can still hear mom or grandma telling us that greens are good for us as they forced us to eat them. Some of us might even actually recognize they are good for us. Mom probably left out a few things in the message though:

  1. Why exactly they are so good for us that it is absolutely worth choking them down regularly.
  2. Why we should be eating them loaded with GOOD FATS like olive oil & bacon!

Our bodies are under constant attack from pro-inflammatory agents like canola/vegetable/soy oil (in just about everything). There are many other major contributors to fueling inflammation in our environment/food beyond those toxic oils. Whether you choose to listen to your body or not it is probably in a state of general inflammation. Read more on this in Dr. Cate Shanahan’s books Deep Nutrition, Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food or Food Rules, A Doctor’s Healthy Guide to Healthy Eating. 

Greens to the rescue! What mom didn’t tell us is that the “antioxidants” that we all hear lots about and seek out are GREAT at fighting inflammation. I don’t want to turn this post into a biochemistry lesson so lets leave it at this: Our bodies function best when general inflammation is minimized…green leafy veggies are great at minimizing inflammation…EAT THEM (with fat – fat unleashes these inflammation fighting beasts).

Enough already! Here’s the recipe for an addictive kale & beet salad that my girlfriend Jennie makes for us all of the time. Happy inflammation hunting:

Kale Salad


2 small bunches of kale

2-3 beets

1 ½ cups cherry or grape tomatoes

12 oz feta cheese crumbles

Olive oil


Salt and pepper to taste


Place beets in a large saucepan and fully cover with water. Add 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice to limit the beets from bleeding. Bring water to a boil and reduce to simmer for 1 hour or until beets are tender. Rinse under cold water to peel. Let cool and chop.

While beets are boiling, remove ribs from kale. Thoroughly rinse and cut into thin ribbons. Pat dry.

Add kale to a large bowl. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Let stand for 30-45 minutes before adding remaining ingredients.

Rinse tomatoes and cut in half lengthwise.

Combine feta cheese, tomatoes and beets to the kale and gently toss. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later.

*Top with crumbled, nitrate free humanely raised pork bacon for an added crunch or add color by using a variety of tomatoes, golden or red beets.

Source: Jennie Roake

Prep Time:  20mins                                                                                                    

Cook time: 1hr (beets)

Total time: 1 hour 20mins                                                                                            

Servings: 4-6

Nutrition per serving (Roughly estimated- without bacon)

240 Calories

14.5 Fat

22 Carbohydrates

12 Protein

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Baffled about Barefoot Running?

Posted by tdifranc on September 9, 2013

I recently received an email inquiry that I actually get quite regularly. It goes something like this: “I am trying to figure out if barefoot running/training is for me, how to do it the right way and what minimalist shoe I should wear but I’m frustrated! I’ve spent a bunch of time and money and all I got in return was foot/calf pain…HELP!”

The following thoughts/tips on the subject are based on my own personal experience with the barefoot running/training movement combined with my background as a Doctor of Physical Therapy/Certified Athletic Trainer/Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist/Corrective Exercise Specialist…nothing less and nothing more! I am not necessarily linking my thoughts to pages of valid/reliable research on the topic nor am I a “Barefoot Running Expert/Specialist/Guru”.

My experience in the barefoot/minimalist shoe movement probably can be traced back to my youth growing up in Vermont somewhere between local dyed-in-the-wool “Vermonters” and “crunchy-hippie” like transplants. Both of these groups have a history of naturally spending much of their time barefoot and so did I! Put it this way – a kid growing up in Vermont gets used to running around barefoot!

Of course while I was running around Vermont in my bare feet the monster shoe companies of the ’80s & ’90s were launching a different approach to footwear. They told consumers that our feet needed as much support as possible and that their shoe was the most supportive on the market. They said it and people followed! People found the most “supportive”/heavy shoe they could find and even added orthotics if they could fit them in amongst all of the chunky foam, rubber and plastic.

What was the result? The result was the same as it usually is when lots of people jump head first into the EXTREME end of a new movement – they got hurt! Foot, lower leg, hip, and back pain/pathology certainly was not solved by all of the extra support in the shoes and it may have even been exacerbated! I don’t have exact numbers on this but I do know that when I first graduated physical therapy school and started as a rookie in the field I saw a pattern with my foot/lower leg overuse injury patients: Mo’ support Mo’ pain!

Watch the below clip from Pain & Gain but envision runners from the ’80s & ’90s talking about getting their next pair of ultra-supportive shoes to take over the running world instead of roided up weight lifters talking about taking over the world one pound of muscle at a time…you will catch my drift…

What slowly happened next, from my perspective, was classic in a hysterical way. Kenyans were winning every race in the world apparently without a single foot/lower leg injury (supposedly while training barefoot or in minimalist footwear), Christopher McDougall wrote Born to Run about how the Tarahumara Indians had developed the ability to run hundreds of miles over treacherous terrain without rest/injury in makeshift sandals (great read by the way) and the “Barefoot Movement” promptly exploded! All of the people that had jumped off the boat on the side of the “ultra supportive shoe movement” scrambled back into the boat fearing they had jumped off the wrong side. They didn’t stop there though…oh no! They turned and did a cannonball off of the opposite side of the boat! Barefoot was KING!

What was the result? The result was the same as it usually is when lots of people jump cannonball-style into the EXTREME end of a movement – they got hurt! Foot, lower leg, hip, and back pain/pathology certainly was not solved by extremely minimizing support in the shoes and it may have even been exacerbated! I don’t have exact numbers on this but I do know that around this time was when I started getting lots of inquiries like the one in the first paragraph of this post. I saw a pattern: Mo’ minimalist Mo’ pain!

In an effort to answer your current question (‘SO WHAT THE HECK AM I SUPPOSED TO DO??’) I would like to share my thoughts on how to safely navigate the barefoot running/minimalist shoe battlefield:

  1. Do not choose footwear that is on the extreme end of the minimalist spectrum unless you have enjoyed barefoot activity/training your entire life and your feet/body have adapted/responded well to it.
  2. Always avoid running extremely long distances (more than a few miles in my world/mind) in extremely minimalist footwear. It will not end well!
  3. If you wish to determine if minimalist footwear could work for you be sure to do it gradually! There are different levels and even different levels within brands. Ask your shoe store employee of choice to give you some options in the mid-range on the minimalist spectrum and start there.
  4. When/if you do try a more minimalist shoe than you are used to do not go out and do the same running/training workout that you are used to. Dial it back…way back! This is critical. Try starting with walking around the house/work/yard in your new shoes for the first week. Then try doing 1/4 of the the normal run/workout you are used to and build SLOWLY from there!
  5. Resigning to the fact that your feet are bruised or the tendons around your ankles are on fire and just pushing through it for weeks is a clown-like move. If you are reading this and can say that you have done this then I award you NO POINTS and may God have mercy on your soul! 
  6. Be OK with the fact that your feet/lower legs/knees/hips/back etc…may simply not be able to tolerate something that looks like a glove for your foot to use for running 50 miles a week in.
  7. It is NOT a good plan to consider barefoot running/minimalist footwear if you have any structural/boney deformity related to injury or surgery in the toes/feet/ankles. Along these lines if you have used rigid/custom orthotics for a long time with reasonable results then I do not suggest messing with a good thing. As always in a situation like this if you are not sure and think you might still be interested in exploring barefoot running/training with minimalist footwear it is a good idea to ask your trusted orthopedic MD or skilled physical therapist. Just be prepared for them to refuse to answer and tell you: “That’s a Clown-Question bro!”.
  8. Avoid user error. What I mean by that is even if you do pick the PERFECT pair of training/running shoes it does not mean you can be an idiot! The exact pair of shoes that is exactly right for you will not protect you from overtraining to the point of injury (user error). Just because the knob on your car’s top-notch sound-system goes all the way up/to the right doesn’t mean you should expect to be able to crank it time after time without blowing out the speakers eventually!
  9. Understand that if you are going to run long slow distances without appropriately doing strength/interval/recovery work while employing appropriate nutrition then you will hurt yourself (regardless of your shoes). Check out these former posts to learn more about how to train right and avoid injury: A. 10 Exercises You Need To Be Doing and B. Things We Already Know: Runners Don’t Lift Weights! 
  10. If you have a beach nearby use it. Walking short distances barefoot or doing light/short runs in the sand can be a good way to ease your way into running/training in more minimalist footwear.
  11. Be sure that you don’t over-think the actual technique of “barefoot running”. You will hear that you must run on your toes/balls of your feet to be doing it right. This is true if you are sprinting but otherwise it is not the complete truth. Running at a pace other than a sprint, you will not/should not be completely up on your toes. Trying to do that will likely result in injury. Minimalist footwear does help to shift you more towards the forefoot while running but it does not automatically pop you up on your toes like I have heard claimed before. Do not think through every step or sride…just go out and run in a way that feels comfortable. Picture yourself running into a headwind, relax and just RUN!
  12. If you have a hill nearby use it. Doing a few light sprints up a short hill can be a good way to groove the natural “barefoot running style” that people talk about. Sprinting is not for everyone but Eric Cressey of Cressey Performance has a GREAT post here on how to EASE into sprinting the right way. 

This post is not about telling you what pair of shoes you should buy so you can be part of the minimalist movement. It is more about giving you a guide to see if it is right for you and if it is then how to do it right! I have used many different minimalist shoes/models and because of that I know what works for me. When I run I tend to do more sprint/interval work than long/slow/distance. During the past two years I have LOVED these worn out old New Balance Minimus models that are technically “walking” shoes. Essentially they serve one main purpose: Ensure that I don’t cut my foot on a piece of glass. NB

They work great for me but don’t forget I grew up running around in my bare feet, I do plenty of lower body/hip strengthening, I use my nearby beach/hill, and I am very precise about the volume/frequency that I run. This is what works for me and hopefully this helps you become less baffled about barefoot running!

Follow on Twitter & Instagram @tdathletesedge

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5 Ways to Fix Your Front Plank

Posted by tdifranc on August 25, 2013

Everyone is doing front planks these days and yet I rarely see them done correctly. When performed and utilized the way they are supposed to be, they can be a very effective Anti-Extension based core exercise. When they are done wrong they can be at best a waste of time and at worst a good way to create back pain!

Screen shot 2013-08-25 at 10.11.05 AM

The term “Anti-Extension” simply refers to the idea that the primary muscles being targeted (anterior core/ab muscles) are engaged in order to prevent spinal extension. Read this post from the TDAE archives to understand why repetitive/forced spinal flexion is ALL-BAD! 

Stop thinking about the front plank as a vessel to set world records and start thinking of it as a way to train your core the right way! A friend of mine and expert on training the core the right way (among other things) Pavel Tsatsouline showed me some of his secrets to performing the world’s greatest front plank a while back. Now I want to share his secrets and some of my own with you.

  1. Chin Position – The cervical spine should be aligned with the rest of the spine. Avoid cranking the neck up into extension or letting it hang in flexion. Simply make a double-chin and you will be aligned!
  2. Chest Position – Press the chest away from the floor and avoid hanging on your shoulders. Not only is this bad for your shoulders but when you press away from the floor you engage muscles around your shoulder blades that are critical for posture/rotator cuff health.
  3. Elbows to Toes – Pavel showed me this and what a HUGE difference this makes! By isometrically pulling your elbows to your toes during a front plank you engage your Lats. The Lats are easy to leave out of discussions regarding what makes up the core but that is a big mistake! Try it…you will feel what I mean immediately.
  4. Glutes – It is critical to get the glutes to be active during any core exercise because in function/sport neither acts alone. The core and glutes need to learn to perform together and by engaging them during a front plank you train the body the way it functions!
  5. Hold & Relax – Stop trying to set records with how long you can hold your planks! The core does not have to hold for 5 minutes straight in a hard isometric contraction in daily life or sport so why train it that way? Long hold planks are also a great way to trade duration for form which creates compensatory mechanisms and stress on the wrong areas. Try doing short & PERFECT holds – 8-15 seconds x 5 with short breaks in between…your core and your low back will be happy!

Here is a video to guide you through the 5 ways to make sure you are doing perfect front planks and you are training the core the right way!

Follow on Twitter/Instagram for more: @tdathletesedge

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Secrets to Training the Core the RIGHT Way!

Posted by tdifranc on August 19, 2013

The purpose of this piece is simple (like me) – Discuss the true function of the core and give examples of how to train it the RIGHT way!

Rather than ramble on and bore you about how crunches are bad and planks are good, I will just refer you to a few posts from the archives (if you are interested) – Things We Already Know: low back Part 1 & Part 2

Front planks, side planks, and even loaded walks (Farmer, Suitcase, etc.) have made their way into mainstream training circles to target the core. Anti-Rotation based core exercises, however, appear to be struggling to catch up while being ignored. Gray Cook & Co. and John Pallof did a great job of bringing our attention to the importance of training the Anti-Rotation component of the core through exercises like the Chop, Lift, and Pallof Press. In the video below I break down what “Anti-Rotation” means and highlight the Cable Half Kneel Lift.

Here is the opposing version of the Lift…the Cable Half Kneel Chop.

Finally, below are a few options of exercises you can do with minimal equipment/at home to train the anti-rotation component of your core:

Cable Half Kneel Lift-Pull

DB Half Kneel Single Arm V Press

Band Half Kneel Anti-Rotation Iso (Pallof Press version)

Enjoy! Add some of these to your regular training and for more follow @tdathletesedge on Twitter & Instagram!

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14 Strategies to Your Best Body: Part 2

Posted by tdifranc on June 8, 2013

Raise your hand if you want to be a fat burning machine…actually forget about raising your hand, just read Part 2 of our Best Body series (**UPDATED Part 1 here). I have no problem with working hard and it certainly takes hard work and discipline to achieve/maintain your best body. That being said, the following strategies can help you  to make it easier:

8. Protein & Fat at Breakfast: Makes you feel full, burns calories and fuels your muscles. By getting protein and fat at breakfast those processed/fat storing carbohydrates won’t be as likely to crash the party7,8-10.

9. Document: Something that is tracked is something that is managed, and if you are trying to manage your body you better be tracking5. Try writing down or taking pictures of what you eat. You will find that it is much more enjoyable to write down or take a picture of grilled salmon and green beans vs. a large pepperoni pizza and a milk shake.

10. Weigh In: Weighing yourself regularly and documenting it will help you to stay accountable but also help you to see what patterns lead to weight loss or weight gain. Try writing down your weight, what you ate, how many hours you slept, and what your activity level was each day 5,6. This will only take 2 minutes and can be done in 1 sentence!

11. Partner-Up: Find someone who is willing to do these things with you and compare notes. Even if they don’t want to join you they probably would be happy to be someone that you report to. You are less likely to skip or miss a day of your new habits if you know someone that you respect and care about is expecting you to report to them.

12. Don’t skimp on the fat: The original food pyramid might have some flaws (hence the obesity epidemic) as pointed out by the Caveman Doctor. Full fat foods like pastured yogurt & eggs, grass fed beef, and even butter (from grass-fed cows) are actually good for us. These products contain things like Conjugated Linoleic Acid which is a fatty acid that has positive health benefits, mainly the anticarcinogenic and weight management properties. Plainly speaking, CLA is a good fat and our bodies need fat to burn fat. In addition to their health benefits, these full fat dairy products will leave you feeling much more satisfied from a smaller quantity as compared to the low fat/corn fed versions due to their much greater nutritional quality. Just ask Dr. Cate Shanahan!

13. Try skipping a meal with a plan: The term “intermittent fasting” has become more and more popular over the past few years. Achieving a fat burning state and many other health benefits have been linked to intermittent fasting. If you are going to experiment with this start slow (1 fast/2 weeks) and low (3-5 hours) oh and listen to your body – if you are starving and feel like you are going to pass out…eat something! From my experience if you try to start with a LONG (24hr) fast you will be more likely to stumble and cave to hunger. Another word from the pretend-to-be wise is to be sure to drink plenty of water to ease the process. After getting used to calculated intermittent fasting (guided by experts) one of my favorite results is the amount of energy I feel while doing it. I don’t have to think about when/where my next meal is coming from or beg my amazing chef extraordinaire girlfriend Jennie to spend her energy making it…you would be surprised at how much time/energy we spend daily on these tasks. This may be something that works for you or not but it’s worth a look. One last tip on this: don’t be scared and don’t even be scared to workout during a fast. Here’s a great podcast from @fatburnman with Dr. John Berardi from Precision Nutrition where they discuss the framework of intermittent fasting for those of you that are curious.

14. Bulk up your bacteria: Over 80% of our cells are bacterial and the remaining 10-20% of cells in our bodies are human cells. Now that we know this, wouldn’t it be a bit ridiculous to ignore the health and care of these GOOD bacterial cells? Seems so to me and science/research confirms the necessity to pay closer attention to our microbiomes. Microbiome is a term used to describe the ~100 Trillion strong body-wide community of bacterial cells that are living and dying on each of us right now! Your microbiome extends from your skin surfaces all the way to inside your intestines! Oh and by the way, they all communicate from your finger tips to the inside of your gut. That means that when you slaughter the good bacteria on your skin surfaces by using something like antibacterial soap/hand sanitizer you upset and weaken all of their relatives deep in your intestines. A weak and low-functioning microbiome has been linked to obesity/weight gain, immune system disorders, susceptibility to food poisoning, signs of depression, digestive disorders, asthma, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, inflammation, DNA changes and the list goes on!!! People are always looking for the next magic bullet to ultimate health and our microbiome might just be it. The term “probiotic” is tossed around by supplement companies because even people that don’t know exactly what it means and have never heard the term microbiome seem to know that probiotics are supposed to be good for us. Unfortunately Fortunately, like in nearly all real-food vs. supplement comparisons the supplement versions of probiotics get SMOKED in the face when they duke it out with real-food versions! Here’s the deal on what do about caring for your microbiome:

A.) Eat more probiotic packed real-foods (pickles not made with vinegar, sauerkraut, kimchi, full fat/raw/grass fed yogurt, raw/grass fed butter, fermented veggies, kombucha teas, and kvass – a fermented veggie drink…among others).

B.) Eat more of what those good bacteria like to eat (“prebiotics”) such as garlic, onions, artichokes, asparagus and chicory (among others).

C.) Be aware that everything you put on your skin or in your body will either benefit or savagely attack your microbiome. Things like how often you wash your hands, what you wash your hands with, the lotions, shampoos, and shaving creams you use can cause damage to your microbiome!

D.) Use antibiotics as a LAST possible resort. Unless of course you want to be responsible for a mass killing of the majority of the the good bacteria in your body that will take years to get back to normal…your call.

I like helping people become unstoppable, fat burning, muscle building machines but all of the work in the gym (even if it is the right stuff) will go down the drain if you don’t pay attention to these 14 strategies. Just try implementing a few of them initially and I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how it helps you get closer to Your Best Body!


1.) Blevins JE, et al. “Hypothalamic-Brainstem Circuits Controlling Eating” Forum of Nutrition 2010;63:133–40.

2.) Leinninger GM, et al. “Leptin Acts via Leptin Receptor-Expressing Lateral Hypothalamic Neurons to Modulate the Mesolimbic Dopamine System and Suppress Feeding,” Cell Metabolism. Aug 2009;10(2):89–98.

3.) Dennis E, et al. “Water Consumption Increases Weight Loss During a Hypocaloric Diet Intervention in Middle-aged and Older adults” Obesity. Feb 2010;18(2):300–07

4.) Garaulet M, et al. “Ghrelin, Sleep Reduction and Evening Preference: Relationships to CLOCK 3111T/C SNP and Weight Loss” Plos One. 2011;6(2):1-7

5.) Burke L, et al. “Self-Monitoring in Weight Loss: A Systematic Review of the Literature” J Am Diet Assoc. 2011;111:92-102

6.) Akers J, et al. “Daily Self-Monitoring of Body Weight, Step Count, Fruit/Vegetable Intake, and Water Consumption: A Feasible and Effective Long-Term Weight Loss Maintenance Approach” J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012;112:685-692

7.) S.M.S. Chung Chun Lam et al. “The influence of whey protein and glycomacropeptide on satiety in adult humans” Physiology & Behavior. 2009;96:162–168

8.) Eisenstein J, et al. “High-protein Weight-loss Diets: Are They Safe and Do They Work? A Review of the Experimental and Epidemiologic Data” Nutrition Reviews. 2002;60(7);189–200

9.) Halton T, et al. “The Effects of High Protein Diets on Thermogenesis, Satiety and Weight Loss: A Critical Review” Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2004;23(5):373–385

10.) Anderson GH, Moore SE. “Dietary proteins in the regulation of food intake and body
weight in humans” J Nutr. 2004;134(4):974–9.


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Best Body Tool: 2 for golf, baseball, softball athletes

Posted by tdifranc on May 5, 2013

Golf/Baseball/Softball season is here and despite the fact that I live in a basketball world I figured I would throw a bone to those big swingers out there. I see a lot of athletes out there, and even trainers, working with rotation sport athletes trying to come up with “swing” like exercises. They seem to think that if the sport involves swinging then their training should include lots of resisted/heavy swinging. If you care about your vertebrae don’t do this!

I prefer to focus on anti-rotation based exercises because rotational power is really produced from the hips as the core/spine remain stiff and stable. That is why we use the term “core stability”. Both exercises are demonstrated with the TRX Rip Stick but can be done with a functional trainer/cable machine and a tricep-rope extension.

In both videos note that if you were to relax the core during the extended portion of the exercise you would fall into rotation, hence the term “anti-rotation”. Sport of any kind revolves around the athlete’s ability to do dynamic work with the arms/legs while the core stays stable!

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14 Strategies to Your Best Body: Part 1

Posted by tdifranc on September 1, 2012

Most people looking to lose weight and feel better have some sort of body composition change/improvement goal in mind. The problem is that very few have the success they are looking for. I often remind people that you simply can’t out-train a bad diet! Yes, exercise is important and you won’t truly succeed without it, but eating healthy is the MOST significant factor in changing your body composition for the better. Here is the proof on that…scroll to “Insight #4 & #5” 

Here are the first 7 strategies out of 14 that you can employ immediately to help you towards Your Best Body without much effort at all:

1. Ice Cold Water: Drinking ice cold water first thing in the morning helps in several ways. Fat burning occurs best when you are hydrated, and your body has to burn calories to try to warm up the cold water. Also, don’t forget that if you are dehydrated you often feel hungry…sometimes a big glass of water is all you need instead of a snack or meal1,3.

2. Slow Down: Don’t eat as fast and your stomach will be able to tell your brain when you are full 1,2. The alternative is to wolf down your meal and grab seconds before your stomach can alert your brain that you are full. In this case,  you consume twice as much as is necessary and then prepare for some version of a diabetic coma while your body finds ways to use or store the excess calories (often as fat). As a teaching point: during digestion, which starts when the food hits your tongue there’s a slight delay between the food in your stomach and your body’s ability to recognize that. Receptors and hormones need TIME to transfer the messages to our brains and let our body’s know that we just ate!

3. Make a Menu: Making a menu and posting it in a central location in the house not only lets family members know what to expect, but it also saves you time and money while shopping. Furthermore, it will give you a plan each week to follow. Menu BoardIf planned carefully it keeps you clean and accountable. You will be much less likely to end up at a restaurant or fast food joint in a mad panic for food if you already have every meal planned out ahead of time.

4. “Go-To” Meals: Having 2 options each for breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner and dessert that can be made quickly will make that menu making project very simple! You can plan to always shop for these knowing you will have them 1-2 times per week minimum. They may evolve or stay the same, but either way you will always have them in your back pocket when you are in a pinch.

5. Prepare In Advance: Make a big pot of your “Go-To” lunch options. Chili on Sunday takes care of lunches for the week! If it is prepped you will eat it…

6. Give yourself a day off (if you NEED it): Allowing yourself a day off if you feel like you need it or if it comes up naturally on your social calendar can slash the guilt of having a “slide” meal/day, and even makes sense physiologically. In order for you to feel full and satiated after a meal, your brain must receive signals from your digestive system. One of these signals comes from the hormone leptin. Leptin is secreted by fat cells and is responsible for controlling hunger as well as metabolism (another reason to seek out good fats).  You feel hungry when your leptin levels are low and you feel full once your levels rise again. When you consistently restrict your daily caloric/fat intake, your leptin levels adjust to being low and your metabolism slows down to accommodate. Sooooo…when your buddy calls and says lets go watch the game at the bar downtown and you end up having an unplanned “slide” meal sandwiched by consistent GREAT meals, this can actually spike your leptin levels and rev up your metabolism2. If you like to plan a weekly “slide” meal/day or if you prefer to let it happen naturally it’s ok and you should not feel guilty. I have attempted both and I do prefer to let it happen naturally but this does take some discipline to a.) decline some invitations from friends/family and/or b.) avoid nasty trap foods and beverages while at social gatherings. The issue with planning them is that inevitably you will have those impromptu dinners, celebrations, and gatherings…when you add those into the planned “slide” meals/days they can add up! The bottom line is to avoid stringing a weekend or 3-4 days/6-8 “slide” meals together…make it an approach you can sustain for a lifetime!

7. Sleep: Getting a good night’s sleep helps your body recover and avoid production of fat storing hormones4. Research has found that a lack of sleep creates hormone imbalances within the body by decreasing leptin levels and insulin sensitivity, both of which can ultimately lead to a decrease in energy and an increase in appetite. Stay tuned for our post on how to get a better night’s sleep!


1.) Blevins JE, et al. “Hypothalamic-Brainstem Circuits Controlling Eating” Forum of Nutrition 2010;63:133–40.

2.) Leinninger GM, et al. “Leptin Acts via Leptin Receptor-Expressing Lateral Hypothalamic Neurons to Modulate the Mesolimbic Dopamine System and Suppress Feeding,” Cell Metabolism. Aug 2009;10(2):89–98.

3.) Dennis E, et al. “Water Consumption Increases Weight Loss During a Hypocaloric Diet Intervention in Middle-aged and Older adults” Obesity. Feb 2010;18(2):300–07

4.) Garaulet M, et al. “Ghrelin, Sleep Reduction and Evening Preference: Relationships to CLOCK 3111T/C SNP and Weight Loss” Plos One. 2011;6(2):1-7

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