Monthly Archives: May 2015

My Fat Loss Journey!

Seven months ago I was 43+ pounds and 8% body fat heavier! I weighed 243 and now I am down to 197.  I wanted to share with you guys some things that happened that caused the unwanted, unnecessary, weight gain so that it doesn’t happen to you! I also wanted to share some things that helped me get the weight off! What you will realize in this blog is that putting on unwanted poundage can happen in the blink of an eye. You will also realize that losing the weight is not really rocket science. Sure, there is a methodical approach, but my suggestions won’t come as a shock to you. In fact, to lose the weight was rather simplistic; it’s the “doing it” part that was tough! You will also learn that you can train as much as you want, and as often as you want, but if you don’t eat well and if you eat too much, you will pack on the pounds!

before and after pic

How I put the weight on:

“Derek you didn’t realize you were gaining weight?” Nope. I never got on scales. I put other people first each day, really didn’t notice pictures and my friends didn’t mention anything was different.

I know a lot of you were hoping for some really crazy story in this blog. However, my situation is almost an “aha moment” and a basic mistake.  I simply started buying too much food monthly at the grocery store. This led me to eating as though I was actually trying to put on weight. The food choices weren’t horrible; if I am being completely honest, I would say an 8 out of 10 on the healthy food purchase scale! Come on, we all have our little cheat foods, even us trainers. That said, I really wasn’t hanging out at Burger king or drinking milk shakes, eating chips, drinking soda or anything along those lines. Again, I mostly purchased green veggies, fruits, chickens, lean meats, fish, avocados, sweet potatoes, whole wheat rice, etc. Again, of course, I had my occasional cheat, but for the most part, I ate nutritionally dense foods.


Here’s what happened…because I was buying too much food, of course, I started cooking in excess, because “ya know I didn’t want to have to waste any of it, or have any of it go bad, and need to throw it out!” This led me to the mindset of eating until I was full. Maybe the worst eating habit you can pick up, in my opinion. I was also not eating slow enough and enjoying my food.  I would rush every bite since there was so much to eat all the time. By eating so fast, I didn’t realize I was full well before I thought I was.  Literally, it was like I was eating for a family of 4! Therefore, this obviously put me in an upside down caloric position. Meaning, I was consuming way more calories than I was using daily.


I am one active dude, but not nearly active enough for the calories I was consuming! I actually was training just as hard then, as I always have! However, here’s the deal…after I train, I eat, as your body and muscle needs the nutrition to repair and build. Except now, since I was consuming too many calories prior to training, and consuming calories after training, I never put myself in a caloric deficit and boom, I packed on what I factored to be almost a pound a week.



When I am not at the gym, I am usually studying training info, running Finisher Fitness, writing blogs, watching seminars dvds of my mentors, etc.  I do this out of my apartment, since that is where my office is. The problem is that my fridge is in my apartment also! As I started to gain weight, my stomach was expanding due to the calories I accidently trained myself to be able to take on.  Obviously, this wasn’t a good thing. I was now eating wherever and at any time. I was eating before bed (late) and then in the morning (breakfast), which was all throughout the day pretty much. There became no structure and things became way too monotonous. I hate to sound naïve, but as I look back in hindsight, and even being someone that knows better, it’s almost like it was all happening without me even realizing it.



As a guy who really has never struggled with being overweight, I really never developed a habit of getting on the scale. I also really didn’t preach the scale much to clients as I was one to say, you can starve and the number on the scale will drop, but your goals should be your clothes fitting better, gaining muscle and your body getting harder.  Do this by dropping body fat (increasing muscle and decreasing actual fat), by doing things the correct way! My opinion on the scale has changed a bit. Being overweight is obviously not a good thing for many negative health reasons! So focus on correctly losing the weight, because often times as you lose weight the correct way, your body fat will generally correlate with your weight loss! Today, I would tell you to aim to get on the scale every day! Don’t obsess, but this will make you look at the number. If you are not at a healthy weight according to your doctor, then it is time to lose weight correctly!



Let’s keep this short, sweet, and basic. I was often moody, tired a lot, my joints hurt more than normal, my sleep was disrupted, I was always hungry, and I used food as an emotional tool as well as a social tool. Body weight exercises were very challenging. Cardiovascular activities were much more of an uncomfortable struggle. I wasn’t as confident and energetic, or positive!



The biggest thing to my success from a motivational standpoint, were actually two things.


#1 Having a winners mindset & taking action! I was 100% to blame, nobody else. Right away, I realized what happened and that I gained the weight. I was consuming way too much and if I wanted to lose the weight, I would have to take action and have to consume the amount of calories for the weight that I desired! So, if I wanted to be in the 190’s I would have to eat like a 190 pound person would.


#2 I knew that in order to make change, my drive needed to come from within. It couldn’t be about things that bothered me, or to prove anything to anyone or to post pictures on Facebook.  I was simply going to do it for me! Without this, I truly don’t think it would have been possible!




It wasn’t rocket science. I still ate the foods I was eating before. Caveman style, seeds, nuts, fruits, lean meats, fish, veggies, drank plenty of water, all the things mentioned before. However, now I stopped buying so much of it, and started eating way less. I always made sure when I sat down to eat that my plates looked like feedings instead of meals, so the portions would be less. I also really favored protein and ate like a carnivore on training days and more like a vegan on activity days! Again, eating as though I wanted to lose weight! So I consumed way less calories but not too little to where I would lose muscle, which would have slowed down my metabolism because muscle helps to break down fat. Did I crave food and feel hungry and uncomfortable at times? Of course, but fight that urge to consume the food and take control to get yourself into a caloric deficit.


In the gym

I made sure that I kept my workouts short, hard, intense, and focused on effort. I paired heavy weight training exercises.  For example, if I did a chin up, I then did a squat. If I did a deadlift, I would then perform, say, a bench press variation. This, in return, skyrocketed my heart rate, and helped me to build muscle for the important reasons I just mentioned above! When you train using this approach, scientifically this helps your body to continue to burn calories for several hours post workout! After I lifted weights, I made sure to do some sort of high intensity low duration cardio work. Maybe 5 minutes of hills sprints, sled pushes, sprints, battle ropes for 20 seconds on 10 seconds off, fan bike intervals etc. I did this 2 to 4x a week!


Outside the gym

“Off days” simply turned into “activity” days. This way, not only was my caloric intake lower because I was eating less, my activity level went way up so I was burning more calories. A perfect combo to lose weight! With the activity days, I wouldn’t do a structured workout routine, but I made sure I was always riding bikes, hiking, or walking during any phone call I would make, and playing sports with my buddies or clients that like to be active. I made sure I worked this stuff into my routine at least 30 to 60 minutes a day. Plus by staying active and busy, you stay away from food!



Want to figure out how many calories you should eat each day? This shows you how many calories you need to eat to survive and then how many calories you need to survive plus for your activity level to perform.

Try this formula: MALE =1 / FEMALE = .9 X24 (hours in the day) x KG (your body weight in kilos) x activity factor (10%)

Here let’s use me as an example! I’m a 197 pound male.

1X 24X (197/2.2 = 89) = 2136 X .10 = 213 + 2136 = 2349 CALORIES A DAY

If I wanted to maintain my weight, I wouldn’t change things up. If I wanted to gain weight, I would increase my calories and if I wanted to lose weight, I would decrease that amount a bit! Any questions on this, feel free to let me know!


Also make sure you read these blogs I wrote as well.

This one will help you with weekly structure:

This one will help you with what to do in the gym (exercises, reps, form, etc.)


This one will further help you understand how to get yourself into overall better shape:


Hope this blog helped you and that you enjoyed!



“What exercises should I do in the gym?” A question I get emailed or asked all the time. The answer depends on so many variables and can be relative to each person. It can be portrayed from two points of view, as well. However, in this blog, I will try to simplify and answer the question as well as I can.


First off, each session, or the flow of each session should start the same, for the most part. Foam rolling (tissue work) / stretching (muscle length) / mobility drills (movement capability) / muscle activation (waking up under active muscles) followed by a dynamic warm up of some sort.

session flow

Then, as far as your exercise selection goes, the following variables take part in dictating what you will be doing. Read the rest of the blog to find out what I mean.


I realize this blog is for clients and your everyday gym enthusiast who wants results and not a science lesson so let’s try to keep these in layman’s terms and as practical and useful as possible! Just a heads up, the exercises listed are our “go to” at Finisher Fitness. I realize there are a ton of options, however, if they have not made my list, there are reasons for that.

LEG EXERCISE: squats(any kind)  / step ups / split squats / rear foot elevated split squats / jump squats, dead lifts(any kind), swings, hip thrust, single leg hip thrusts, lunges & reverse lunges, 1 leg dead lifts

PULLING EXERCISES: chin ups, single arm dumbbell rows, bent over rows with a dead stop, TRX face pulls and horizontal row

PUSHING: pushups, bench press, dumbbell bench press, military press, dumbbell military press

CORE: planks, roll outs, side planks, anti-rotation, carries, straight leg sit ups

If you need help on form, feel free to ask or check out some of the exercises done live, on our YouTube channel! (If you have clicked the links above, you have already gone to our page 😉

Do you know your goals?  What do you truly care about accomplishing?

The exercises that you select should match your goals at least 90% of the time. If you don’t know what you are training for, then you should sit down and define exactly what you want to get out of it.

Want to get stronger?

Why are you standing on a BOSU ball waving a 3lb pink dumbbell? Use heavy weights, 87%(+) loads, low rep ranges 1 to 6, sets 2 to 6 and long rest periods, 2 to 5 minutes! Perform, power lifts such as dead lifts, bench presses, military presses, front & back squats, loaded chin ups!

Want to drop some body fat?

You can also use the exercises mentioned above. They use a ton of muscle groups at one time, therefore causing a higher caloric expenditure. However, we generally use an 8 to 12 rep range for fat loss, 2 to 4 sets and 30 to 90 second rest!  Other exercises, aside from the ones listed above that aid in fat loss and building lean body mass are dips, dumbbell rows, swings, step ups, lunges, face pulls, dumbbell bench presses. That said, you can make a case for a ton of exercises, rep ranges, as there is a time and place for everything. Another really valuable thing to do is to pair up exercises in addition to that! For instance, squat right into a chin up, right into a military press! Do this in a circuit fashion for a couple of rounds and you will really put yourself in a good position to break down fat and increase lean body mass!


Do you already look the way you want to?

Then focus on learning, practicing, and mastering the things in the gym, or movement patterns and exercises that you have never been able to do before! Whether that means learning and training to do 50+ pushups straight, a chin up, a dead lift weight that you have never pulled before, climbing a rope, or single leg squat.  Something along those lines that challenges you physically and mentally, and allows you to learn a little something about yourself. Not only will this help with confidence, it will prevent your training from going stagnant.

What is going on in your life that day? Another big factor to the exercises you select has to deal with what, at the current time, is going on in your life. This is especially specific to note for that specific day. For instance, if you are a nurse who just worked a 15 hour shift and is really worn down, then it’s important that you understand, that it would be wise to scale back from a strength protocol or power lift that day. Instead, it would be best to cut down the duration of your work out and increase the intensity, keeping things short, hard, safe and effective! Pick some exercises that are less demanding, such as the ones mentioned above and do them for about 20/30 minutes at most and call it a day!  However, if you are on 6 to 10 hours of restful sleep, here’s where you can try a challenging, tough grind it out, type work out, that will take a little extra time and detail. You could also hit on all cylinders here. Get some strength exercises done. Hypertrophy work, strength, endurance etc.


If you have shoulder problems, you probably should watch over head pressing, as this pattern may cause discomfort. Perhaps, not do it, or at least do it less often. Chances are you have problems elsewhere in your body, and if you don’t know how to reboot the system properly, then stick to more of a horizontal pushing option. An example of this is a push up or neutral grip dumbbell bench press.

The same holds true for lower back pain. Those of you with extreme discomfort in the lower back should favor single leg or stagger stance exercises such as lunges, step ups, single leg glute bridges, split squats, 1 leg squats and dead lifts, as these exercises will develop and mobilize the small muscles around the hips to hopefully help take away and improve some discomfort. Single leg training is also 50% less pressure on the spine.

If you have knee pain, you should favor “hip dominate”  exercises, such as glute bridges, kettlebell swings, dead lifts, single leg dead lifts, mini band abduction & external rotation circuits. Squats, lunges, step ups, are “knee dominate” in nature and could cause discomfort!


Training should be fun and productive! Keep yourself guessing, make your sure you change up your approach! Hopefully now you have a better idea of how to select exercises and when!


injury blog 4 safety first

People correlate training with the notion that “ya know when you work out you’re going to get some injuries, puke, and be sore for days on end.” This is an absurd thought process and probably the reverse effect of what proper training should provide. Good training should have built in systematic, scientifically backed proper exercise selection and protocols to help your body move, feel and look better.


If you are constantly getting hurt or nursing injuries here could be some reasons why:                                   (no particular order)

#1 Carrying too much body fat and weight around! Besides for the constant pressure and impact this puts on your joints, now you can’t move through patterns well enough and you compensate as a result.  Start eating better, moving more, conditioning harder and resistance training!

injury blog

#2 Not taking care of the tight tissue our body develops from the everyday postural demands we are forced to be in! We develop bad backs knees, hips shoulders, elbows, from the constant sitting we do at work, driving, texting, eating etc. Start foam rolling or applying massage therapy to your daily routine! Stretching and certain mobility drills can be helpful as well as crawling, climbing, jumping, skipping in a field like a 5 year old kid!

injury blog 2    PLAYGROUND

#3 Not walking enough! Not only does a 10 to 30 minute brisk walk outside do wonders for your mind it will help increase mobility throughout your body alike from the above point. Studies are showing that walking with a big arm swing is helping to loosen up the low segments of the spine!

#4 Not resistance training! Getting stronger through passive ranges of motion, as well as developing connective tissue and bone density is key to preventing and improving injury!

#5 Doing too much of everything! Resistance training the same muscle groups with way too much volume (reps) and way too much frequency (days a week) and not using GREAT form often enough! Too many bad reps, too many work outs in a row will lead to injury!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Running too far too often can cause overuse injuries do to the wear and tear and light level plyometric impact on the joints!                                                                                                                                                     High intensity work outs too frequently (days a week) can become over taxing and form gets compensated as a result.

#6 Not enough water intake. H20 is a huge necessity to joint maintenance, muscle recovery, hydration capabilities and overall fluency throughout the body!

injury blog 3 water

#7 Not taking sleep serious enough or getting enough sleep. You’re asking for trouble if you are not a quality sleeper. Turn all the electricity off in your room. Don’t eat for at least an hour before bed.  Get the room as dark as possible. Write down tomorrow’s tasks in a note book. Say no to staying out late if you have to be up in the morning!

These steps seem basic but I have been in the game long enough to realize this stuff works and really helps to fix things before they break! However if you do accidently get injuried that dosent mean you have to throw in the towel. You can still be safe and effective if you are creative enough! Check out Danielle a week after breaking her foot falling down the stairs, crushing an upper body strength, conditioning and core work out with me!