What a week, y’all.

In the last week I’ve continued working with existing clients/members, finished a final session with another and picked up four new ones. And those four new ones all seemed to come about at very strange times and in very strange circumstances. I could be writing in this blog forever or posting videos on my Instagram every day for the rest of my life but my acquisitions have consistently materialized while I’m actually putting in work. I’ve strapped the focus mitts on then ran through combos with one client and picked up clients. I’ve been lifting weights — shoeless, I might add — in the middle of my own routine and picked up clients. Hell, I’ve just taught class on the regular and picked up clients.

When I’m sweaty, gross and barely wearing a shirt, it seems that’s when I get paying clients. I think I’ve found my key to success, y’all. Sweat, nudity and hard work.

Whatever works, I guess.

This also goes to show that you never know who’s watching. Just like Roman said in a post I highlighted last week, how you do one thing is how you do everything. If you’ve got your sights set to kill at all times, people are going to notice.

Speaking of, I’d appreciate it if you all would notice the following finds from this week:

  • Clean Eating Grocery List for Beginners and How to Set S.M.A.R.T. Fitness Goals by Mark Barroso and David Sutter, respectively, via Cellucor
    Cellucor went into the vault (albeit a shallow dive into said vault) to highlight some helpful articles for those who are new to the fitness and nutrition world. Anytime someone asks me about nutrition hoping to get a secret or easy-to-follow advice usually get disappointed when I tell them to just focus on eating real food. But that seems pretty simple to me. It may not be a fad diet or a quick fix or have a specific meal plan laid out before you, but how easy is it to consider is this real food? No? Then Maybe I shouldn’t eat it? Taking the guess work out of your nutrition will set you up for more than a diet, but a healthy lifestyle change. The goals article is great if you like the corporate definition of S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Based) but if you want to think outside the acronym, I’d suggest reading this post from last week (Slay Your Own Dragons by Pete Hitzeman via BreakingMuscle).
  • Give Fewer Shits by and via Nia Shanks
    I love Nia’s blog and this post in particular. You’ve probably read something similar but it should be repeated over and over again because, let’s be honest, we all give way too many shits. We’re all afraid to do something or attempt something because we give a shit about what others think of us or how we’ll be perceived if we fail. Nia gives a high-level summary of what it means to stop giving a shit about these things, what happens when we do, what happens when we don’t and gives us a preview of what life might have been like had more people given more shits (spoiler: it would suck). It doesn’t have to be something huge — you don’t have to set out to write the next best novel and you don’t have to set out to run a marathon today — but if you’re afraid you can’t or shouldn’t do it because your reading or running style may get made fun of or fail, then you have shits that should be sacrificed. And no one likes having the shits. If you want to read more content like this, I’d like to recommend The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson.
  • Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Bowls by Ali via Gimme Some Oven
    If you’ve been meal prepping for years or if you started on January 1 — hell, if you plan on starting Monday, even — this recipe is where it’s at. I’m going to probably add it to my regular rotation. There’s a lot of goodness here and while I’m good with eating it as-is, you should probably consider a few things before adding it to your meal plan. Yes, there is rice in these containers and no, it’s not bad for you. However, I’d suggest consulting your macros for carb intake before diving in too far, though I’d venture to say most of y’all will be okay. It’s probably also worth checking the sodium content on the bbq sauce you’re using just to cut out anything unnecessary (or shit, maybe even make your OWN *gasp!!*).
  • 1000 Rep Endurance Challenge: Easy – Medium – Hard by Shane Fazen via FightTips
    I love a good old-fashioned fight-inspired workout. Shane has a killer — and I do mean a KILLER — workout that can be modified based on your fitness level and ability. Check it out NOW:


  • 5 Hacks for Effortless Habit Building in 2018 by Steve via Nerd Fitness
    A bit of a longer read here but Steve does a great job — like he always does — of taking something scary in the fitness and nutrition world like…fitness and nutrition…and breaking it down into simple, relatable terms that make those worlds not so scary anymore. Here, he talks about what makes a habit as well as good ways to kill off a bad habit and ways to start more good habits. A very important takeaway from this is his note about not going all-in or biting off more than you can chew. Sure, lots of people would love to go out and run a 5K but most people aren’t able to. If they start right now, they’ll fail, they’ll get discouraged and they’ll quit. Instead, using apps like Couch to 5K, you can still have a big-picture goal of running a 5K but your focus is on your goal TODAY — your focus is on going for that run TODAY. Keeping pace for the allotted time/distance TODAY. THAT’S the goal. And once you get through enough TODAY goals, your overall goal will be yours for the taking. Baby steps, y’all. Achievable goals, not goals that are out of reach.
  • More Essential Guides from MyFitnessPal
    Last week I highlighted MyFitnessPal’s posts on the essentials of Macros, Protein, Carbs and Fat. This week they take nutrition just a little bit further with The Essential Guide to Healthy Eating, The Essential Guide to Portion Sizes, The Essential Guide to Meal Planning and The Essential Guide to Low-Sodium Eating. Funny enough, all things I’ve touched on just today. Nutrition is the key factor to losing weight and getting healthy, guys. Nutrition. Not fad diets. I’ll say this every day for the rest of my life.
  • Cook Once, Eat All Week — Week 4 from Cassy Joy Garcia via Fed+Fit
    I’ve talked about this series before and I still love the concept of it. The above link takes you to a polished ebook version of this week’s recipes but if you want the breakdown, you can find the base recipes for the required chicken breast, spaghetti squash and spinach here but check out the ebook for recipes for Chicken Carbonara, Spaghetti Squash Egg Cups and Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash Boats as well as a handy dandy shopping list that’s already made for you. Y’all, this couldn’t be much easier!

    I would also like to point out this rad recipe for BBQ Pork Plantain Pizza that has to go on my weekend cooking agenda.

Music to Lift Heavy To*

Unlike last week it has NOT been a good week for new metal releases but I figured I’d share the one promising new thing I heard today. Before I do, though, I want to also mention that I’m making a playlist (inspired by my BFF Alli) called Blame Alli where I’m adding a new song every day for the rest of the year. — find it here — The idea is on December 31 you can have your own 2018 playlist in addition to the one Spotify makes you that you’re too embarrassed to share with anyone.

Anyway, after seeing Exhumed in Johnson City back around Thanksgiving, I’ve gotten a newfound appreciation for death metal and today sees the newest release from Hell’s Headbangers artist Druid Lord. The album is called Grotesque Offerings and can be yours digitally for the demonically low price of $6.66. If you want to get a taste of the death, doom and absolute filth that is Druid Lord, you can see it below. Now pick up something heavy.

*I can’t wait to turn this into “music to run fast-ish to”. For real. I’m dying to go run again.

Friday Fitness Finds 1/12/2018

This has been the first week in over a month that I’ve felt amazing (physically, at least) every day. I’ve gotten lots of sleep, put in a lot of work at the gym and have eaten well every day with no exception. It’s so freaky how the holidays have a tendency to throw us off as bad as they do. Even we, the dedicated ones.

So I’m looking forward to my weekend workouts and even have some extra Clean Eatz meals in the fridge to prevent me from doing anything stupid over the weekend save for a planned Saturday night treat that will remain my little secret until I start posting about the importance and non-evil-ness of “cheat meals” (gag — I hate that term, for real).

Anyway, There isn’t a lot to share this week but share I shall do anyway. Here are the cool things I read:

  • Slay Your Own Giants by Pete Hitzeman via Breaking Muscle
    Here, Pete discusses the importance of setting goals that actually mean something, and what setting meaningful goals actually means in our lives. Ultimately, the idea here is to set goals that scare you and push you toward an existence or toward experiences that you never thought you’d see yourself in. This is how we grow — this is how we get better, faster, stronger. In doing so, we’ll also alienate ourselves from a lot of our peers because many will see our goal as either unachievable or not worth the effort. Goals that are worth achieving, after all, are often goals only we can see the value in — they’re our own giants to slay — and this is as good a time as any to begin our glorious quest.
  • How I Learned to Make the Perfect Omelette by John Romaniello via Roman Fitness Systems
    If it seems like I include Roman in every edition of this post, it’s because Roman writes a lot of good shit. He’s back this week with a story about going on vacation with a girlfriend, being assigned to a breakfast cooking class and learning how to make a proper omelette by a World-Champion Omelette Maker. What does this have to do with fitness? Nothing, really, but also everything. How you make your omelettes could easily be a window into your life for others to see — an abstract, if you will. If you half-ass your omelettes, there’s a good chance you half ass a lot of other areas in your life. Simply put (and to quote Roman): how you do one thing is how you do everything. So maybe strive to do everything awesome!
  • MyFitnessPal’s Essential Guides
    I get it. Nutrition is hard. It’s way easier to just find a fad diet online, do what it says and pray for results. You may find them, who knows. But more often than not, fad diets (also known as crash diets) are usually pretty extreme and extreme is no way to live … nutritionally speaking, at least. But learning about nutrition is crazy. There’s all this talk about macros and protein and BMR and blah blah blah MATH. But ultimately, therein lies the “secret” to weight loss or muscle-building. Hell, therein also lies the secret to simply living a healthy lifestyle. You could buy a whole book on the topic, which you either won’t read or at least won’t understand, or you can check out these articles from MyFitnessPal: The Essential Guide to Macros, The Essential Guide to Protein, The Essential Guide to Carbohydrates and The Essential Guide to Fat. They’re not books and while they’re science-based, they’re not scholarly written (read: you’ll be able to understand them). Check these out and don’t be afraid of making your own diet anymore.
  • Successful Meal Prep 101 by E Rock via Cellucor
    I hate to take anything away from my own meal prep series but I figure this is a good little teaser for anyone just looking for a little nudge in the right direction. Cellucor does a pretty good job of giving you a short list of good practices as well as a list of bad habits folks tend to fall in when they first start prepping their own meals for the week. Again, expect a complete revamp of my now-dated series, but for now it’s okay to check this out for a little inspiration. And just for fun, maybe check out this Jen Jewell (also of Cellucor) article about Are You an Ectomorph, Mesomorph or Endomorph? but don’t get too caught up in the lingo. It’s really not that important at this point.

Music to Lift Heavy To

Holy shit, you guys. Today was an amazing day for new metal releases. I’ve bookmarked releases by Tribulation, Watain, Bleeding Gods, Centuries and Heidevolk but it’s the below song that really got me today. It’s not a new release but it was new to my ears and I feel stupid for not digging into this when it was released back in September of last year (thinking I may have been a little distracted back then, no?). Anyway, this is a murderous track from the mighty Electric Wizard from their record Wizard Bloody Wizard. DIG IT!

This world has made me depraved and sick — Yeah, baby, I tortured you just for kicks
But I am obsessed by evil — forever a servant of the Devil

If THAT doesn’t make you want to go pick up heavy shit, you don’t pick up heavy shit.

See you freaks on Monday.

The Weekly Thing 1/8, aka “New Year, Who Dis?”

It’s the second week of January, guys — know what that means? Statistically a quarter of all New Year’s resolutions involve eating better and getting in the gym more, yet by the second week of January — again, statistically — we’re dangerously close to 40% failure already. This stat isn’t new to me and it’s not new to science, but that doesn’t make it any less amazing. Every year we do this. We listen to the same song, we do the same dance, we recite the same excuses. And with every year we inch a little closer to the grave, we’ve, yet again, not done ourselves any favors.

That stops this year.

At least if I can help it.

I’m planning on doing as much as I can in this space to motivate and inspire everyone in the new year to make a better life for themselves. I’ll be covering typical fitness blog shit with workouts and nutrition tips, recipes, etc. but I also intend to post a lot more opinion pieces, overall lifestyle topics and the occasional hard-love blurb.

I guess you could say that I’m making blog New Year’s resolutions but I’d rather you didn’t. I don’t do that kind of thing. I don’t make resolutions — I make plans, then I set out to achieve them. I’d suggest you do the same.

While we’re on that topic, a few other things I’m planning to conquer this year:

  • Reach 10% body fat — stretch goal of 8%
  • Take my first yoga class
  • Completely redo my meal-prep series
  • Release an eBook
  • Hit 199.9 lbs (or lower) on my next cut

I hate to keep bringing up those pesky statistics but the numbers say 80% of all resolutions are long gone and lost by February. So let’s set ourselves up for success here. Do you have a goal? Rad! Now break it down into smaller, way more achievable goals. Do those smaller, much-more achievable goals still seem out of reach? Then break THOSE down, too. We reach our goals, not by taking them on as a whole and accomplishing one big thing, but taking on the individual pieces that make that overall goal. Our enjoyment comes less from achieving the goal and more from the process of achieving it.

This will be the year you enjoy the process.

Whatever that looks like. As much as I’d love it if you came to my TITLE Boxing Club, bought a year-long membership and then bought a Personal Training package with me, I want you to take on your goals in whatever way you feel best helps you get there. It could be as much as joining a gym and finding a great program to start. It could also be as little as waking up 5 minutes earlier or stretching a little in the afternoon. Maybe it’s working on your finances a bit this year or cutting some of the negative fat from your life. Maybe — like me — it’s making more words with the intention of helping people live healthier, happier (and prettier, of course) lives.

So here’s to taking those first few steps. Here’s to breaking your overall goal into smaller goals. And here’s to enjoying that process.

Now let’s talk fitness and nutrition:

I’m starting a new strength training program I’ve designed for myself to help me continue to add muscle during these cold winter months. I’ve gone back to doing a sort-of “bro” split and dropped back to a NASM-inspired Phase 2 Strength Endurance program with intentions of working my way back through Phase 5. The typical “Big Three” powerlifts are included (squats, deadlifts and bench press) but there’s also quite a bit of unilateral work and some additional core work at the end of every workout.

Additionally, I’m including a few exercises I’ve been discussing with my friends at work lately. Namely barbell shoulder presses and landmine thrusters. I’m also, again, working a pull-up program into every workout. I’ll detail each of these workouts over the next few weeks, but for now, here’s what the week in exercise looks like:

  • Monday:6:30pm Spin Class at TurbonSpin Knoxville
  • Tuesday: Legs Split 3×12 at 70% – Bicycle warm-up; additional core work
  • Wednesday: 7:00pm Boxing Technique at TITLE Boxing Club
  • Thursday: Chest, Shoulders and Triceps Split 3×12 at 70% – Wall walk warm-up; additional core work
  • Friday: 5:45am Boxing at TITLE Boxing Club
  • Saturday: Back and Biceps Split 3×12 at 70% – Chin-up warm-up; additional core work
  • Sunday: 9:30am MMA at TITLE Boxing Club

Nutrition is going to be tricky if I want to eat clean, which I do. After determining my muscle-building macros, it appears as though I’m going to require a hair under 4,000 calories per day at roughly 35% protein, 20% fat and 45% carbs. I say this is problematic because after ordering my week’s worth of food from Clean Eatz, it seems that on three Clean Eatz meals per day I’ve only covered about 1,100 calories.

That’s a lot leftover y’all.

Just for fun I started looking and it appears that while it would put me over my fat macro for the day, I could eat three Clean Eatz meals and one large pepperoni “Hot and Ready” pizza from Little Caesar’s every day and still be short on my calories, protein and carbs for the day. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do just yet but it’s looking like I may be making a lot of extra steak and sweet potato bowls for supplemental macros throughout the day. It’s a rough life.

Did the talk about macros and workout splits leave you cross-eyed? Don’t worry — we’ll cover all those things in the coming weeks.

I love my people …

… That’s you guys.

And I won’t leave you hanging 🙂

Friday Fitness Finds 1/5/2018

Happy 2018, weirdos!

I’m just now realizing I haven’t done a FFF since before Thanksgiving.


All that’s really important, though, is that we’re back in action and about to hit the new year harder than me hitting a Marco’s pizza when I don’t think anyone is looking. When I do the year’s first Weekly Thing next week, I’ll do a more full-on update for where I am physically, emotionally, etc. but for now, let’s check out some of the rad shit I’ve found since being back in Knoxville with nothing pulling me away:

  • I’m Done with Back Squats. Here’s Why. from John Romaniello via Roman Fitness Systems
    Roman is a big inspiration for my fitness writing. The dude is definitely qualified and has plenty of experience to back up his certifications. That said, he’s also not afraid to call out a bullshit program or diet; he’s also not afraid to admit that a good portion of why we’re gym rats is because we want to look pretty. Nothing wrong with that! This week, Roman posted a pretty rad piece that could have easily had him tied to the stake and burned alive by bros across the globe — he’s no longer doing back squats. GASP! If you hate squats, I wouldn’t suggest reading this article with hopes of justifying your desire to skip the exercise; rather, everyone working through a program (or looking for a program) could benefit from his reasoning here: Don’t like it or don’t feel like it’s benefitting you? Don’t do it. I use the same philosophy with diet. I believe one should never eat anything they don’t want to eat — therefore it follows that one should also not do an exercise they don’t want to do. Even if it’s one of the “Big Three.”

    But again — don’t take this as your excuse to skip legs all together. Roman definitely isn’t skipping legs and neither should you be.

  • 16 Gym Etiquette Rules That People Often Break by Linda Melone via LiveStrong
    I think I posted something similar to this last year but it’s worth repeating every year (or more often, actually). With so many newbies cramping the gyms this time of year, it goes without saying that learning proper gym etiquette is just as important as learning proper squat form and not being a “lunk.” Topics 1, 3, 6 and 13 are hot topics for me, personally, though I’ll have to admit that I push the limits of number 4 on the regular.
  • Skinny Enchilada Casserole Recipe from Kim’s Cravings via MyFitnessPal
    I have a love/hate with MyFitnessPal but they sent me a couple of great recipes this week that I can’t wait to try for a weekly meal prep. This enchilada casserole is packed with everything you’d want in a Mexican-esque treat, seems incredibly easy to prepare and is incredibly macro friendly. Says servings = 6 but I’m thinking more like 3 for a guy like me.
  • Slow-Cooker Irish Beef Stew Recipe from Cook Smarts via MyFitnessPal
    MyFitnessPal back at it with a slow cooker meal that looks heavenly and oh-so Viking. Beef stew meat + root vegetables were made for the slow cooker and you get the added benefit of cooking with beer and red wine (what you do with the reserved liquid is none of mine or anyone else’s business). A little effort and 7 hours later you’ve got 4 servings (I’d say two but 2 cups is a lot of stew, even for a viking) that’s high in protein and reasonable in fat and carbs.
  • Brutal Landmine Complex from Ben Bruno
    We’ve been talking a lot about Landmine variants in the gym lately, implementing them in row form for the last few Weekend Winter Weightlifting sessions. I’m going to be including some Landmine Thrusters into my new program (that I’ll detail next week) but I found this killer complex of Landmine moves that would be a perfect full-body burn out to add to the end of any workout.
  • Mittwork with the Best Trainers in LA from Train with PJ
    If any of my boxing friends are reading this — I want to do this with y’all when it’s not a frozen tundra outside:

  • Fed And Fit
    I recently started following Fed and Fit but admittedly haven’t found a lot of content I wanted to share … until today! Cassy has released a free e-book called Cook Once, Eat All Week that she’s breaking down into daily posts. I think this is brilliant and it’s a super easy-to-follow how-to for people who are just getting into the meal-prep world or simply don’t have a lot of time to eat healthy. This week she started with this base recipe that includes potatoes, kale and ground beef. She’s then used these pre-made ingredients to make BBQ Bacon Burger Loaded Potatoes (4 servings), Taco Breakfast Hash (6 servings) and Veggie-Loaded Shepherd’s Pie (4-6 Servings). It’s delicious, nutritious and so incredibly simple.

Music to Lift Heavy To

I went on a road trip back in December to get my head straight while I work through this divorce. I saw a lot of cool shit, got four new tattoos, ate some pretty good food, saw some old (and made some new) friends and listened to a lot of great music. One of the jams I came across was this little dude that came out in 2007. I’ve never listened to Every Time I Die but Spotify tricked me into listening to them by feeding me this jam and I’ve been in love ever since. He’s singing about being a party animal, but with lyrics like In the wild kingdom – you don’t live ’til you’re ready to die and I never thought it would take — I had thick blood and cynical skin — so where are you supposed to escape when the creature is lurking inside you? how are you NOT supposed to lift heavier than ever before?

The Weekly Thing 12/4

I mentioned in my last post that it’s way important to not be a glass jaw when it comes to stepping up your game after falling off the wagon for the holidays. Did any of you fall off of said wagon? I’ll be the first to tell you that not only did I fall but I fell hard – like extra hard.

After spending more than a week with my parents for Thanksgiving, mom and I were at a grocery store when we passed their bakery.

Mom: Ooh, let me show you their cheesecakes!

Me: Okay.

Mom takes me over to the glass case where strawberry, raspberry and caramel cheesecakes are sliced in monstrous, Cheesecake Factory-sized servings.

Do you want one?

What? No! Hell no, even!

Up until then I had eaten my weight in turkey and ham, had completely pigged out on barbecue one night, had eaten mom’s homemade biscuits and gravy, had a ton of fast food, had eaten a whole box of eggnog cake rolls and had basically eaten half a red velvet cake. An enormous piece of cheesecake was the last thing I needed on this trip.

Oh, come on!

I don’t want it.

Well, I was hoping you’d say you wanted one. That way I could justify getting me and Chuck a piece, too!

Guilt, y’all.

Okay, let’s get one.

Alright! What kind do you want?

I went with strawberry but we ended up with a slice of all three. Later that night, after filling up on mom’s spaghetti and bread, mom asked me if I wanted to take two or three bites out of my cheesecake. I said sure.

…and I’d like to let you know that I ate the whole damn thing.

Anyway, I’m back in Knoxville and back to my routine. I’ve got five days to feel better about my health so I’m hitting it hard with a brand new meal plan from Clean Eatz and with the conclusion of my current vertical stack. Here’s what this week looks like:

  • Monday: 5:45am Boxing Power Hour at TITLE Boxing Club, Evening Strength Training:
    • Heavy back, bis and shoulders
    • Medium Legs
    • Light Chest and Tris
  • Tuesday: Morning MMA Cardio, Evening Strength Training:
    • Heavy legs
    • Medium Chest and Tris
    • Light Back, Bis and Shoulders
  • Wednesday: Morning Boxing Cardio, 7:00pm Boxing Power Hour at TITLE Boxing Club
  • Thursday: Morning MMA Cardio, Evening Strength Training:
    • Heavy Chest and Tris
    • Medium Back, Bis and Shoulders
    • Light Legs
  • Friday: 5:45 am Boxing Power Hour at TITLE Boxing Club
  • Saturday: TBD*
  • Sunday: TBD*

*I’m going to be traveling for a little more than a week but intend to use bodyweight exercises and hotel gyms to get my workouts in. I also hope to document these as part of a larger project I’m working on that I hope to share when I return.

Before I get out of here today I want to give a big shoutout to XCellerated Fitness in Kingsport, TN. This was my gym home while visiting family for Thanksgiving and they gave me a great outlet to pump out a lot of aggression, depression and sugary processed foods. The gym seems to lend itself more toward the power lifters and people that are even bigger meatheads than me, but the facility is nice if you’re looking to stay on track (sort-of) while traveling. Give ’em a go if you’re in town!

This is what you look like when you work out there. Could be motivational, could also convince you to go somewhere else, I dunno…

Friday Fitness Finds 11/17

Thanksgiving is basically here, man. A week from this very moment, most of y’all will have already hit the Turkey Day leftovers several times and maybe gotten into a fist fight over a new TV at Best Buy. I hope to do at least some of that if not all of it and if you’re lucky enough to have done both, then I admire your spirit! In the past, it was the Halloween season that really threw me off of my fitness and nutrition game — having less to do with candy and more to do with the convenience of fast food and other junk — but in the last few years I’ve been able to rein it in by the time Thanksgiving rolled around.

Statistically speaking* most people that lose their shit around the holidays stick with their lost shit until the end of the year, opting to instead pick out an ambitious resolution for the new year. I hope this isn’t you. If it’s not you, I hope you enjoy the below Fitness Finds for the week as well as the Thanksgiving holiday with your family. If it’s partially you — you’re struggling but you’re motivated and somewhat focused still — then I hope this keeps you focused or pushes you back on track in some way. If it’s totally you, however…Well…

*I can’t actually back these statistics up

Anyway, here’s this week’s stuff:

  • 21 Umamalicious Paleo Recipes for Mushroom Lovers from Jess via PaleoGrubs
    You guys see PaleoGrubs on here a lot and for good reason. The site, itself, is less of a food blog and more of a hub where great Paleo recipes from all around the web come together. I’m a big fan of mushrooms and this list has 21 amazing recipes I’m dying to try. I particularly have my eye on this Peppercorn Beef Tenderloin Roast with Mushroom Cream Sauce and this Rosemary Garlic Beef Roast with Wild Mushrooms.
  • Skillet Berry Crumble from Vicky via Tasteaholics
    Full disclosure: I got this recipe from a weekly Keto newsletter I get. I’m straight up about this fact only because I don’t have a favorable opinion of Keto. I’m not convinced about the nutritional science that supposedly supports it and, just on a personal level, I think it’s a diet made up by picky eaters. I’m a big fan of Paleo, though, and I know there’s a lot of back-and-forth regarding that particular philosophy as well (I don’t follow it religiously, of course). Anyway, is it Keto? Yes. Does it matter? Fuck no — it’s a macro-friendly berry crumble, for Christ’s sake!
  • Title Boxing Club Fosters Female Empowerment via Title Boxing Club
    It’s safe to say at least 75% of our members at Title Boxing Club Knoxville are women, and I think that’s RAD. And there’s a good reason for that! While what we do at Title is perfect for men and women alike, the environment we create for women and the specific benefits women can reap there are unmatched anywhere in the country as far as I’m concerned. This particular post doesn’t dive deep enough into this as I think it easily could, but it definitely gets the point across.
  • Gorilla Tank Top via Venum
    Somebody buy me this in a size L, plz.
  • TMNT Team Shredder Rashguard by Fusion Fightgear via MMA Warehouse
    Someone also buy me this. Also size L.
  • Stronger Things Design via FlexComics
    Don’t worry about getting me this because the special runs out at the end of the weekend so I’m getting it for myself. This time in size SWOLL.
  • This bit of advice from Good Fucking Design Advice:

Earlier I indicated that I didn’t know what to say to you if you fell into the “I’ve fallen off and can’t get back on” category. This isn’t true and y’all know better.

If Halloween got you off your nutrition game — that’s okay. If Thanksgiving makes you overeat — that’s okay. If the stress of Christmas makes you eat all the cookies, drink all the eggnog and skip all the gyms — that’s okay, too! Life happens. Sometimes it doesn’t just happen but it also punches you. Hard. But you have to take that punch and press forward. You have to be the heavyweight champion that we all know you are. Champions take a punch and move forward. Champions even take losses but keep moving toward their goal. They don’t give up. They don’t wait until Monday and they sure as hell don’t wait until the new year.

Giving up or putting your goals off strips you of your championship and labels you a glass jaw. If that’s what you want, more power to you, but just know that glass jaws get punished in the ring and their paydays are shit in comparison. Don’t be a glass jaw.

And maybe don’t be Glass Joe, either, no matter how funny he is.

Music to Lift Heavy To

I’ve been slightly obsessed with Mutoid Man lately, y’all. When they played in Knoxville recently I bought one of every t-shirt they had for sale and haven’t listened to much else in more than a month. I haven’t heard a new-ish band rock so hard in a long time and these guys blend everything I love together in such a beautiful way. They’re loud, they’re heavy, their vocals are wonderful, their lyrics are great, they perfectly blur the line between metal and punk in a way that makes my heart sing and the hair on the back of my neck stand up…And I’ve never seen another band enjoy playing music live as much as what I saw that night with these guys at the Concourse.

But this isn’t about Mutoid Man.

Mutoid Man’s drummer Ben Koller is a fucking wild man. I sat in front of his drum kit all night watching him slap his drums with his hands, go behind his back to strike his hi-hat, play the headliner’s drums behind him and even kick his cymbals from time to time. Dude’s a freak and he was the highlight of the show for me. Ben’s talented as hell, too, and performs for other way rad bands such as All Pigs Must Die and Converge. THAT’S who this is and you’re not ready for this shit. Put some headphones on, load the barbell and get ready to set a new 1RM.

The Weekly Thing is Now the Weekly Thing Again 11/13

It’s been a little more than a month since I finished the Bluegrass Half Marathon and, consequently, it’s been a little more than a month since I wrote up a weekly “thing.” If you don’t remember, the Weekly Thing (originally started on my other site) is just a weekly rundown of everything I’m training for the week. It was great getting to share my half marathon training in those posts but since the race ended, I’ve not had a lot to talk about.

So let’s catch up?

I took about a week off from training after my half marathon was over. I wasn’t sure what kind of training I’d get into next, but I knew I wanted to hit the weights again. I figured I’d go full-on bulk since I’d successfully dropped about 20 pounds on my training cut (down to 200 pounds for the first time since middle school). So I set out to create a heavy lifting program based off NASM’s OPT Model Phase 5 for Power. I set up a “Bro Split” schedule that looked like this:

  • Day 1: Chest/Triceps
  • Day 2: Back/Biceps
  • Day 3: Legs
  • Day 4: Shoulders

My cardio and core exercises would be taken care of thanks to the 3-4 classes at TITLE Boxing Club per week. NASM’s OPT Phase 5 model for resistance training targets a specific muscle group with 1-5 reps of 85%-100% 1RM for 3-5 sets supersetted with 8-10 reps of 30%-45% 1RM for 3-5 sets. I modified this slightly to include three heavy sets for eight reps on a specific muscle group followed by a superset of two medium-weight sets of 10 (weight dropped 20% or so) in the same muscle group, and then three sets at a very light weight with 12 reps.

And it fucking worked. Over the course of the month, the number on the scale fluctuated from 3-5 pounds gained but visually my body started blowing up a bit. Specifically my back, chest and shoulders.

I plan on sharing the actual program here soon if you’re interested in following it yourself.

I decided it was time to change it up a bit, though, so while I designed my new program, I followed a bodyweight-only routine that utilized pushups, rows, squats, L-sits, pull-ups, tricep dips and a variety of other full-body torture options. Every time I do bodyweight-only exercise programs, all it really does it make me question my body weight.

With that said, I figured it was time to start lifting again. This time around, I’m doing a vertical load, hitting every muscle group top-to-bottom three days per week so everything gets hit every day. Here’s what my split looks like now:

  • Day 1:
    • Heavy Legs 5×5
    • Heavy Legs 5×5
    • Medium Chest 4×8
    • Medium Triceps 4×8
    • Light Back 3×10-12
    • Light Biceps 3×10-12
    • Light Shoulders 3×10-12
  • Day 2:
    • Heavy Chest 5×5
    • Heavy Triceps 5×5
    • Medium Back 4×8
    • Medium Biceps 4×8
    • Medium Shoulders 4×8
    • Light Legs 3×10-12
    • Light Legs 3×10-12
  • Day 3:
    • Heavy Back 5×5
    • Heavy Biceps 5×5
    • Heavy Shoulders 5×5
    • Medium Legs 4×8
    • Medium Legs 4×8
    • Light Chest 3×10-12
    • Light Triceps 3×10-12


Before I post the full workout schedule for the week, I figured I’d go ahead and point out that we’re now offering MMA classes at TITLE Boxing Club Knoxville and they’re for MEMBERS ONLY. Classes are limited to TEN members per class so pre-registration is required. And I’m on the schedule for MMA this week so if you’re a member and you’re reading this, I think it would be rad if you showed up! See schedule below.

This Week

  • Monday: Morning Boxing Cardio, Evening Day 1 Split
  • Tuesday: Morning MMA Cardio, Evening 7:00pm Boxing Power Hour at TITLE Boxing Club
  • Wednesday: Morning Boxing Cardio, Evening Day 2 Split
  • Thursday: Morning MMA Cardio
  • Friday: Morning 5:45am Boxing Power Hour at TITLE Boxing Club, Evening MMA Cardio
  • Saturday: Early Morning Winter Weightlifting Session with the Freaks, Later morning 11:00am Technique Boxing Power Hour at TITLE Boxing Club
  • Sunday:Morning 9:30am MMA Power Hour at TITLE Boxing Club, later morning Day 3 Split

My final thought this week comes courtesy of my brother DeMarcus. He posted a few thoughts on Snapchat this morning regarding “The Cost of Convenience.” I’m not a fan of counting calories for several reasons, but one specific reason is that I see a lot of people fall into a habit of only considering the number of calories in their diet and not the quality of those calories. Can you lose weight merely counting calories and eating wtf ever you want? Yes, absolutely. It’s a numbers game, after all. Are you getting healthy and will you feel better overall? Probably not.

Sure, Wendy’s may have a lot on their menu that fits your calorie requirements for the day, but have you thought about what you’re eating? Junior Bacon Cheeseburger? Small chili? Nope. It’s shit. It’s all shit. And that diet soda you’re washing it down with? Shit. And if you feed your body shit, you’re only going to get shit out of your body. So much shit coming out of your body may result in a good number on the scale, but it likely won’t result in much else positive inside your body or overall health. Just something to think about.


Recently Knoxville Martial Arts Academy posted this photo on their Facebook page to hype the upcoming fight of Knoxville’s own Ovince Saint Preux. I love the idea behind this — staying ready, never a reason to have to get ready. Personally, I fell into the convenience trap in the last week and my body has reminded me of it. I got most of my workouts in but I didn’t fuel my body properly and felt sluggish and bloated as a result. I was always ready, alright — always ready for more fries and wine!

With Thanksgiving coming up, I figure I’ll get enough of that shitty feeling at the end of the month and I don’t want anything to do with it until then, so it’s back on my game this week. You should do the same. You’ve been given a unique opportunity to start fresh TODAY. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Not after the holidays. The time is NOW!

Until later this week, enjoy this mitt work I did with my boy Joseph on Sunday and then ask yourself why you can’t make it to the gym this week.

Friday Fitness Finds 10/13

It’s been more than a month since my last Fitness Finds post and it’s been a weird as hell month to say the least. I realize after finding the link to the last one that I started the post celebrating the arrival of fall with our first cool morning…

And that was the last cool morning we’ve had since.

No shit, the twerp on the news in the morning said just last week the heat index would be around 90 degrees for the day. Someone needs to tell Mother Nature that mid-October is fast approaching and a bunch of us are depending on it. Get with the program, man. I’m ready to wear some sleeves, y’all!

…Outside, at least.

Anyway, I have a few things worth sharing this week and I hope you all find them at least entertaining if not useful or inspiring.

  • When Your Life is a Raging Dumpster Fire, Lead With Your Ass by Nia Shanks
    This is a little inspirational post based on something one of Nia’s followers said. It’s a pretty rad philosophy for anyone looking to better their lives in any way. And I don’t just mean going to the gym — I mean anything you want to make yourself better at. If it’s something major like being a better parent or getting a better job, or if it’s something as little as managing your time a little better at work or getting better organized. Get your ass in there and do it. You won’t do anything unless your ass is there. And so, lead with your ass

  • 16 Easy Slow Cooker Paleo Pork Carnitas Recipes from PaleoGrubs
    Honestly, one of my favorite things about following a Paleo(ish) diet is how friendly Mexican food can be on that diet if you put a little effort into it. Not only is Mexican food great for Paleo, but there are so many ways you can do it and this post shows just how many if you get creative. 16 different ways to make carnitas? That are Paleo-friendly? And use the slow cooker? Sign. Me. Up.

  • Pumpkin Pie Smoothie Bowl by Juli Bauer via PaleOMG
    Speaking of Paleo…Maybe this is a new one to me or something but I’m way into the idea of a “smoothie bowl,” especially when it’s seasonally appropriate (even if it is hotter than fuuuuuuuuu here still…) Fire this little guy up and enjoy some super yum pumpkin-ness and don’t feel bad about it, y’all.

  • The 10 Things Perpetually Healthy Nerds Do that Unhealthy People Don’t by Steve from Nerd Fitness
    This is a bit of a long read and if you’ve been on your fitness journey for any amount of time, you’ll likely find a lot of this is on a beginner level but that doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from it. BEGINNERS — this is a great place to start if you want to learn a little more about getting your mind right for fitness and overall wellness. From a Nerd’s standpoint. Y’all already know how much I love Nerd Fitness.

  • Special on Optimum Nutrition Essential Amin.o. Energy from
    I’ll be honest, almost always runs some kind of sale on this stuff but it’s some of my favorite BCAAs and right now they’re BOGO 50% off for a limited time. Or until the next time they do it, which will likely be in another week or so.

  • Swolloween Mystery Gym Bag Sale from Flex Comics
    This is a pretty sweet deal, you guys. It’s basically an intro to Flex Comics for half the price it would normally cost you. I love love love love love my Thor “Dost Thou Even Lift?” shirt and if you’re into geek culture at all, then you’ll appreciate their other stuff. This is basically a mystery grab bag but if you look at what they offer, you’ll see that there’s no way you can lose with this. Plus you get a cool drawstring bag.

Music to Lift Heavy To

Yes, once again, I’m changing the name of this section. I think what I’m going to do is just name it whatever I think fits the song of the week. Is it great to lift heavy to? Named. Run fast-ish to? Named. Punch things to? Named. This week, we’re lifting heavy.

One of my favorite things to do on Fridays is check out the new metal releases over at This week they dropped a couple of killer bombs on me that I’m way excited about including the latest from Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats.

What I wanted to focus on this week, though, is the latest from Exhumed. Their new record Death Revenge was released today and it is pure, unfiltered, totally disgusting, head-splitting, wrist-slitting, head-severing, balls-out fucking fire. Put this on and go dominate some heavy weights.

Bluegrass Half Marathon, Y’all

The great philosopher Forrest Gump once had a profound conversation with a t-shirt designer while running coast to coast…

Woah! Man, you just ran through a big pile of dog shit!

It happens…

What — shit?


Shit, indeed, does happen. And in doing so, sometimes it makes you take a short hiatus from blogging and social media updates. In the meantime, I finished training for my half marathon (kind of) and then made it happen. That’s what we’re here to talk about so let’s talk.

Bluegrass Half Marathon

The alarm went off at 5:30am and I calmly shut it off because I was already mostly awake anyway. I was in my parents’ house in Kingsport in the bedroom that I slept in for 15 years or so. It looks completely different with the lights on but at 5:30 in the morning there’s a strange vibe that enters your soul that makes you feel like you may actually still be 17 and you should be careful because you probably have heavy metal magazines, CDs and even a stereo in the bed with you.

I made a bit of coffee, ate a cup of oatmeal and two slices of plain white bread. At this point it was 5:45. My parents would be up in 15 minutes, the race would start in less than two hours. The doubts started to set in.

I missed my last long run and that disappointed me. I was encouraged, however, that I had made it to 11 miles on the weekend. For my first half, the furthest I’d ever gone was nine and I finished just fine. I was more ready for this one and I knew the course wasn’t as hard as the first one but, I mean, what if I wasn’t as ready as I thought?

By 6:15 both parents were up and it was time to empty the tank and listen to my power song. At the same time. Enjoy that visual.

On the 20-minute trip from Kingsport to downtown Johnson City I sat in the passenger seat a nervous wreck. Tapping my toes, shaking my legs, slapping my fists together. It was like it was my first race all over again. I was an absolute wreck by the time we got there. We had about 20 minutes to spare before the start so we hung out around a bicycle shop debating what direction we’d be running in because the START sign seemed backwards.

I spotted a port-o so I ran down to pee even though I knew it was way too early to do it (I’d later pay for this). When I walked back up the hill, another runner came up to me and asked if there was any paper in the port-o I’d just walked out of. I told him yes but I didn’t really know. I spent the next 10 minutes trying to avoid him in case I was caught in a nasty race-day lie.

My dream goal for this race was to finish at 02:25:00. My actual goal was 02:30:00, tertiary goal 02:35:00 and last-resort goal of finish at all costs. When we lined up, I quickly found the 2:30 pacers and got behind them and I patiently waited for the start.

I don’t know how many people were actually registered for this race but I know for certain it was small by race standards. I wasn’t lined up in the back but there weren’t many people behind me. There was definitely a 3:00 pacer and there may have been a couple other pacers in-between. Either way, when we started, I quickly got shuffled around just trying to not run anyone over and before I knew it, I was right on the heels of the 2:20 pacers.

When new runners ask me for tips on running their first race I always tell them not to rush right out of the gate lest they wear themselves out. Know your goal pace, find it and keep it. Yet I don’t do that. I never have. I always take off faster than I should. So on Sunday, I decided to not push it even though I felt like I could. I had a long way to go still and I didn’t want to burn out by mile 5. I found a comfortable pace right on the heels of the 2:20 guys and I told the 2:30 pacers to bite me.

And that’s where I stayed. There were two pacers, an older gentleman and a group of four or five woman that were nearby that I stuck with through most of the race. I was both surprised and proud of myself for keeping up with the 2:20 guys for so long and not really feeling tired.

Then at mile 9.5 my legs decided they’d had enough of this newfound faster pace. There was no gradual build-up, there was no warning. They just started hurting badly. I slowed down to a trot. I slowed down to a walk. I stopped. I stretched. Meanwhile the 2:20 guys ran into the distance. I glanced behind me to see if I could spot the 2:30 crew and didn’t, so I managed to hobble away. I spent the rest of the race very uncomfortable. I had to slow down several times, more stretching, a shot of GU. I lost my shirt at mile 10.

I want to sound cool but I wasn’t. I kept moving through what was the most difficult portion of the route just dying for the race to end so I could get off my legs. At mile 12 two women started to pass me. They were carrying a flag that said 2:30. Suddenly I remembered how I felt when the race started. I remembered my goals and I remembered what I was running for. I could’ve walked my way to a PR at that point but that would’ve been settling for well enough and we decided well enough was old Justin.

And old Justin is dead.

So I shouted at the 2:30 pacers that they weren’t supposed to be there yet and I moved my ass. It hurt so bad, it was hot and I was tired but I wasn’t going to settle.

My folks were at the finish line cheering for me politely not criticizing my shit running form at that point in the race and not questioning what happened to my shirt. It was their first race so they had fun even though it meant waiting around on me for more than two hours.

In the end, I finished at 02:28:40 with an average pace of 11:26/mile which is a PR by 11 minutes! Like almost to the second. Holy shit… I was not expecting that.

I spent the rest of the day not doing anything. I showered, took a nap and stretched. I was hoping to eat my weight in pizza but mom insisted on cooking dinner which was fabulous and likely way better for me anyway. I can eat pizza any time but I can’t eat my mom’s food any time. I was thankful.

The next day I celebrated in the only way I know how…

And so another half marathon is in the books. As it is right now, it will be my last. If not forever, at least for a very long time. I’m ready to start lifting heavy again. Long runs are for the birds. And skinny people. I’m neither a bird nor a skinny person, though officially I’m down 19 pounds on my cut — merely two pounds away from goal. Just tooting my own horn here.

Toot, toot, y’all.

Now we wait until October 14 when I take on what may very well be the hardest race I’ve ever done. I have a lot more training to do and a lot more sharing to do. So many changes in my life right now and I want to put that invigorating feeling into my online presence as much as I can. I hope you’re cool with that.

Because I’m cool with that.

The Bluegrass Half Marathon was put on by the Goose Chase and if you want to show them some support, I think that would be really cool:

Clean Eatz: a Review

You guys know by now that I love cooking. It should be no surprise to anyone that I’m also way into meal prepping. It’s vital to your wellness if you’re looking to lose, gain or maintain weight while eating clean and saving time (and money!)

But what happens on weeks when you legit don’t have time to do the prep?

In my case, that usually results in a week of eating junk, going out for lunch and spending too much money at the grocery on “dinner for tonight.” It doesn’t take long before you start feeling sluggish again all because you failed to prepare.

It happens to all of us, for real. If only there was a back-up plan…

Enter Clean Eatz.

Clean Eatz Knoxville opened up a few months ago and while I was familiar with it, I hadn’t heard anything about them. They’re in the same shopping center as a Crossfit gym and a *shudders and swallows vomit* 9 Rounds boxing gym. Honestly, I kind of just assumed they serviced those folks primarily and I didn’t want to use a service if they were going to require me to walk into the restaurant doing lunges with kettlebells just to place an order.

Then everything fell into place. I had two weeks back-to-back where I was traveling and working a lot, therefore I didn’t spend my Sunday doing meal prep as usual and I paid the price in the nutrition department. Around the same time, Erin ate there for lunch and said the food was tasty. It was recommended to her by a friend who frequents the place and I was then turned on to it by a few members at MY gym.

This place must really be good!

So I gave them a shot.

You start the process by signing up for their emails. You’ll receive an email on Thursday morning with the next week’s menu on it (complete with macros) and you have until Sunday night to submit your order. So this is what I did.

The online ordering system is pretty straight forward with drop-down menus for you to select the number of each meal you want to order. There are options for half-carb, no-carb, extra protein and gluten-free if your diet calls for any of those modifications.

When you place your order, the website explicitly states you will not be receiving a confirmation email. While I’ve ordered twice and have received my proper order both times, this makes me uneasy and I don’t like it.

Pricing is reasonable for a meal prep service and is based on the number of meals you order. For instance, an order of 5 meals is $38 (and $7.60 per meal for every meal greater than 5 but less than 10). At 10 meals the price per meal comes down ($6.80), again at 15 ($6.53) and again at 21 ($6.09). An order for both Erin and I costs me around $97 which is comparable to our weekly grocery bill if I was meal prepping myself.

Meals are picked up on Mondays. I’ve been told they’re packed around lunch time with people coming in to pick up. I normally can’t go until around 5:30-6:00 so it’s often just me and two or three other people and it’s quick and painless. All of the meals are portioned and waiting in coolers where the staff can quickly assemble your weekly order. The restaurant is decent sized with ample seating for a medium group of diners. Also, if ordering ahead isn’t your thing, there’s a cooler in the storefront that contains a huge selection of meals that aren’t on the weekly menu that you can just “grab and go” with.

The first week I ordered enough food to cover us for both lunch and dinner all week. We got the mango and coconut blackened cod, the French dip sandwich and the Hawaiian chicken bowls. Everything was super good and I enjoyed it so much that I didn’t document any of it. Fitness blog fail.

Anyway, you bring home giant paper bags that contain the meal prep containers that are exactly like the ones you’d buy from Costco or Amazon. They’re dishwasher and microwave safe but since I have a stack of these already I just recycle them. Still pretty convenient.

So what about the food?

Last week I only ordered lunch for Erin and myself but I was sure to get a wide selection of what they had to offer. Here’s what we got with a brief description of what was included:

  • Don’s Bowl of Happiness: Chicken with black beans, corn and green peppers tossed in a chipotle bbq sauce served over white rice. 413 calories.
  • Beef Brisket Bowl: Brisket tossed in bbq sauce with pinto beans and healthy cole slaw served over brown rice. 474 calories.
  • Ratatouille: Ground turkey tossed in tomato sauce with zucchini, eggplant and Jack cheese served over egg noodles. 397 calories.
  • Southwest Egg Scramble: Eggs, black beans, turkey bacon and corn topped with Jack cheese with a side of hash browns. 280 calories.

Don’s Bowl was very tasty. I love having a bed of rice under chicken and veggies and it NOT be bland. The bbq sauce they include was just sweet enough to be flavorful but not overwhelming. My only diss here was it reminded me a lot of the previous week’s Hawaiian chicken, sans-pineapple.

The Beef Brisket is the best thing this week. The brisket is tender, juicy and hella flavorful. The pinto beans and slaw are a nice touch and the brown rice was merely brown rice. Brisket is hard to eat lightly but they did a good job of making it work here.

The Ratatouille is great but it reminded me more of spaghetti with meat sauce than actual ratatouille. I was able to identify the various veggies in mine but there didn’t seem to be many in there. On a positive note, egg noodles are the jam and the ground turkey in tomato sauce was super good.

The only place they fell flat this week was on the Southwest Egg Scramble. I got two of them and ate them both for breakfast this week but I wasn’t particularly impressed with it either time. The “scrambled” eggs appear to just be crumbled hard-boiled eggs tossed with beans and corn. I found a few pieces of turkey bacon but couldn’t taste it and the dominant flavor overall was the mostly bland hash browns. Probably won’t be getting this one again.

Ultimately, I’d call Clean Eatz a win. For a quick break down:


  • Convenience (location is nearby and meal prep is DONE)
  • Healthy — I’m on a cut right now and their super light meals have really helped out.
  • The French Dip and BBQ Brisket are to die for
  • Their presence is good for the community, promoting not only healthy eating but CLEAN eating
  • Pricing is about what I would expect and is well worth paying for considering all the hard work is done.


  • They have a Z in their name
  • The lack of confirmation email bothers me.
  • The southwest egg scramble sucked
  • They don’t put as much effort into presentation as I’d like — I’d often open my container to find things sort of tossed around.
  • They have a bunch of Nine Rounds shit scattered around their restaurant.
  • While they have a few things, I’d like to see more “snacks” available for those between-meal cravings.

I’ve already put my order in for next week. The menu includes Sweet and Sour Meatballs, Brushetta Chicken, Sesame Salmon and Steak and Potatoes. I’m in to it, y’all.

Get Social:

Clean Eatz Knoxville is located at 155 West End Ave.
Hours: M-F 11am-7pm, Sat 11am-3pm, Sun closed

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Clean Eatz Website