Finding the truth: Six nutrition myths exposed

17 Aug




When did every one become a nutrition expert?

Wishful thinking, illogical fallacies, and misconceptions passed along in the health and fitness community have seemingly deterred folks from finding the practicality and truth in nutrition.

Todd Weber PhD, MS, RD and Mike Polis MS, RD, LD join forces to tackle some common nutrition misconceptions and deliver cogent, viable, scientifically sound nutrition information.

Myth #1 – “I need to limit my intake of fruits and vegetables because they contain too much sugar”

Of all the nutrition claims out there, this one ranks as one of the craziest.

In my experience this misconception is often the result of the following situation: a personal trainer or nutritionist asks a client to recall the foods they ate in the past few days.

The client recalls his/her diet and the diet the client recites is nearly perfect: appropriate amounts of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, and low-fat dairy.

The nutritionist/personal trainer usually knows where the trouble spots in a diet are and realizes the client needs to cut calories to reach his/her weight loss goals but in this situation cannot figure out where the client needs to cut calories to reach these goals.

After analyzing the diet the trainer isn’t going to suggest cutting back on sources of lean protein such as fish, chicken, low-fat dairy or healthy fats/vitamins such as avocados, or salads.

Instead, fruits and vegetables, especially starchy vegetables, or those perceived as starchy vegetables (carrots) are going to be “called out” as the culprits and eliminated from the diet.

The client will be told that he/she cannot lose weight because they are eating too much sugar coming from fruits and vegetables. As a nation, we have become fixated on sugar when really we should be concerned with calories, not sugar.

2 lbs. of baby carrots.

2 lbs. of baby carrots.

Do you know how many calories are in this 2 pound bag of baby carrots?

1) 225 calories

2) 350 calories

3) 563 calories

4) 851 calories

If you ate this entire 2 pound bag of baby carrots you would still only be consuming 350 calories (or the equivalent of eating less than 2/3 of a Big Mac). Another example of how few calories carrots (a supposedly high sugar vegetable) contain, one baby Twix bar (50 calories) contains the same number of calories as 14 baby carrots.

Perception vs. Reality.

Perception vs. Reality.


I think that most of us would agree that, on average, fruits contain slightly more sugar than vegetables. Yet, if we compare the number of calories in a baby Twix bar versus ½ cup of commonly eaten fruits (Table 1) you will see that in 17/21 cases you would actually save calories by eating ½ cup fruit in comparison to a baby Twix bar!




When someone tells you to stop eating fruits and vegetables because there is too much sugar in them, tell them to

1) shut up and that

2) their math doesn’t make any sense.

I would NEVER cut fruits and vegetables out of your diet. Instead, focus on 1) expending more energy through daily activity and/or 2) reducing the serving sizes/portions of every part of your diet (lean meats, whole grains, etc), not just fruits and vegetables.

Myth #2: “Dairy products promote inflammation and chronic disease.”

When you hear the term “inflammation” a negative connotation likely comes to your mind. We have been conditioned to dislike inflammation and rightfully so. Chronic low grade inflammation has been associated with the development of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer (1). For the good of our health, we are told to avoid (or suppress) inflammation at all costs.

So does this mean we should avoid dairy to limit inflammation?

If you Google search “dairy products and inflammation” your suspicions that dairy produces considerable amounts of inflammation will be confirmed.


"I read it on the internet, so it must be true,"

“I read it on the internet so it must be true.”


The first four search results indicate that your friend or trainer (or the internet) who told you dairy wasn’t good for you was right. However, the scientific community, by enlarge, has come to the opposite conclusion!

Dairy consumption actually reduces inflammation! In a recent cross-sectional study individuals consuming >2 servings/dairy/day had concentrations of molecules associated with inflammation in their blood between 10 and 30% lower than individuals consuming <1 serving/day (2). Now to be fair, there are studies for and against dairy’s role in promoting inflammation; however the majority of systematic reviews of this issue demonstrates that dairy actually improves your inflammatory profile by lowering inflammation, not raising it (1,3,4).

The reasons why dairy may actually improve your inflammatory profile are complex and poorly understood but may be due to the calcium, magnesium, vitamin D or other yet undefined proteins found in dairy products.

So the bottom line is, if you currently eat dairy, keep eating it. If you don’t like dairy or can’t eat dairy don’t worry, there are other foods you can eat to obtain the nutrients you would otherwise consume by eating dairy. Dairy and inflammation? Keep worrying about your real problems and don’t waste your energy on those that are pretend.

Myth #3: “Processed food is junk food and should not be eaten.”

A recent review article on processed food posed the question, “Is ‘Processed’ a Four-Letter Word?…” (5).

This question is indicative of the stigma that processed foods conjure up when discussed by many health conscious Americans. In response to the term “processed” food, some health conscious Americans are prone to saying things such as:

“I would never allow my children to eat processed foods.”

“Processed foods contain dyes, additives, adulterants, and chemicals harmful to you or your children.”

“You should only be eating whole, natural foods.”

Yes, I agree that we should all be eating whole, natural foods but not all of us have the taste, time, culinary skills, or budget to prepare and eat only whole, natural foods. Processed food, like virtually every nutrition topic, is not black or white, 1 or 0, yes or no. There is a certain amount of gray area in the discussion of nearly every “processed” food’s nutritional content.

There is a difference between processed food and what you would call “junk food” and not all processed food should be considered junk food. Yes, Doritos, Cheetos, soft drinks, cakes, and cookies are junk food as they deliver essentially ZERO nutritional value but what about cereal, pasta, bread, fortified products, canned beans, and canned fruits and vegetables? These foods have been considerably processed and are far from their native, natural state, yet in many cases, are vital contributors to the nutritional quality of the typical American’s diet.

When we dissect an American’s diet between the years 2003 and 2008 on the basis of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (6), we see that processed foods contributed

55% of dietary fiber
48% of calcium
43% of potassium
34% of vitamin D
64% of iron
65% of folate
46% of vitamin B-12

These nutrients are extremely important to our health and processed foods contributed to greater than 50% of several of them. On the other hand, processed foods also contributed to

57% of total calories
52% of saturated fat
75% of added sugars
57% of sodium

Whether a food comes in a can, is frozen in a bag, is far removed from its original state (cereal), is dried, fortified, or enriched, processed foods contribute a considerable amount of nutrition to the American diet. Without food processing and food fortification many Americans would not meet their dietary goals. Processed food doesn’t necessarily mean junk food. Processed food that is nutrient dense (tightly packed with nutrients) is NOT junk food. Junk food is food that is calorie dense (tightly packed with calories) and not nutrients.

Before you stigmatize someone for telling you they recently ate a “processed” food, consider whether that food was nutrient dense or calorie dense.

Is processed food a four letter word?

I don’t think so.

Myth #4: “To lose weight, you should eat 5-6 small meals a day.”

If you have ever stepped foot in a gym I think you have probably heard this line before, “The best way to boost your metabolism and lose weight is to eat 5-6 small meals/day”. The theory behind this nugget of wisdom is that your metabolism increases each time you consume a meal and decreases in between meals.

To keep your metabolism “firing” it is best to spread your meals out throughout the day to take advantage of this increase in metabolism with meal consumption (known as the thermic effect of food).

But is this story really true?

Let’s dive into this issue by first examining the driver of weight gain or weight loss, energy balance.


Energy balance is key.

Energy balance is key.

Energy Balance

In simplest terms, think of nutrition as a system with an input and an output sector.

Input includes the foods and beverages we consume (calories).

Output includes our resting energy expenditure (REE), the thermic effect of food (TEF), structured exercise energy expenditure, and involuntary movement.

  • REE refers to the rate at which the body expends energy while at rest to operate basic life functions — such as breathing, sweating, filtering blood, and heart rate.
  • TEF is the energy used to digest, absorb, and distribute the nutrients in the food and drink you consume.
  • Structured exercise energy expenditure is just that. The amount of calories we burn during (and after) exercise. This is typically referred to as active energy expenditure (AEE).
  • Involuntary movements include energy expended through non-planned exercise activities such as fidgeting at our desks, tapping our foot, pacing, or walking to your vehicle after work. These movements are also referred to as NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis).

Exercise and REE: Burn baby, burn

"Stoking the metabolic fire."

“Stoking the metabolic fire.”


Eating frequently in an effort to crank your metabolism into high gear stems from archaic epidemiological research and non-evidenced based claims perpetrated by fitness enthusiasts.

As calories are restricted, the TEF is reduced and if we are trying to lose weight, eating smaller, more frequent meals may actually do more harm than good.

In essence, the fewer calories (energy) we take in combined with a high meal frequency, may lower the overall response of the TEF (7).

To make matters worse, evidence has indicated that as we decrease the number of calories we consume, we also typically become less active. Not necessarily less active with conscious exercise, but perhaps less active expending energy via NEAT and involuntary bouts of movement (8).

Combine this with a decrease in REE (a natural byproduct of a decreased calorie intake and weight loss) and we are drastically decreasing our overall caloric burn.

Yet another reason not to get on the “small frequent meal bandwagon” is that research has suggested the effect of meal frequency on metabolism does not lead to a greater fat oxidation (9).

Please note: fat oxidation is required for weight loss.

Finally, it should also be noted that the TEF constitutes a measly ~10% of total daily energy expenditure while BMR and exercise (including NEAT) make up the bulk (90%) of energy expenditure (see picture below).


The thermic effect of food is trivial.

The thermic effect of food is trivial (10).

So, what should I be doing?

Shifting one’s focus to:

1. controlling calories and macronutrients based on your estimated needs while
2. using exercise to increase energy expenditure,
3. acquiring (lean body mass) development via resistance training, and
4. reaping the benefits of the” after burn” effect from high intensity training and thereby creating the real “thermic effect.”

In summary, there is no conclusive evidence that an increase in meal frequency correlates with a higher metabolic rate and/or reduction in body fat – given total calorie intake is controlled for (11, 12), which ties in with evidence which suggests no correlation between a higher meal frequency and fat oxidation (9).

The TEF is completely independent of REE, the energy burned at rest by the human body. Lean body mass (LBM) and activity level, both of which are independent of TEF, are the primary drivers of your metabolic capacity.

If the TEF resulted in a higher “metabolic rate,” an increase in meal frequency would likely increase LBM and BMR.

To date, there is no data supporting this hypothesis.

As I mentioned earlier, but cannot stress enough, a decrease in metabolic rate is the byproduct of restricted calories and perhaps a decline in NEAT vs. a lower meal frequency.

So, what do I know?

Eating 5-6 small meals may actually:

1) Decrease the thermic effect of food (TEF).
2) Do nothing for weight loss or increased fat oxidation.

Practicality of meal structure

Select a meal pattern that is most appropriate for your schedule and needs.

Listen to your hunger cues and become more in-tune with your body’s physiology by answering the following questions:

• Are you mistaking hunger for thirst?
• Are you low on dietary protein consumption? (Note that dietary protein promotes feelings of fullness and satiety, which can keep hunger levels at bay).
• How many meals/day feels right to me?
• Do I need to change the times I eat my meals to get through the day?
• Do I need to eat a larger breakfast or lunch to make it to supper?

Following an arbitrary “8 meals per day” protocol because your favorite professional bodybuilders and figure competitors do so is only opening the door for unwanted gastrointestinal distress and a decline in finding enjoyment in your food.

Select the meal pattern that is most appropriate for you schedule and your needs and call it the (insert your name here) plan.

Myth #5: “For building muscle, the more protein, the better.”

Dietary protein has long been associated with “muscle building” in the general fitness community. And there is certainly some truth to that. However, context is also important.

Let’s take a look.

Protein requirements are individualized based on your goals, height, weight, age, gender, body composition, and activity level.

More protein in the diet does not necessarily translate to more muscle on Jane Doe’s frame. There is a dose dependent response with protein, and possibly an anabolic cap to just how much protein you can effectively absorb and digest.

Strength athletes and folks focused on building muscle may benefit from a higher protein intake but how much is too much and how much is just right?

Protein needs are very individualized and goal-specific.

Protein needs are very individualized and goal-specific.


The current Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein for folks at a healthy body weight (BMI<25) is 0.8g-1.0/kg body weight; however, this estimate does not take into account metabolic demands and stressors related to training.

For the strength athlete or physically active individual, 1.4-2.0g/kg of bodyweight is a safe, effective baseline recommendation for protein intake.

In fact, this recommendation may actually enhance training adaptations according to the International Society of Sports Nutrition (13).

Why do athletes benefit from an elevated protein intake vs. the current RDA recommendation?

Protein synthesis is increased, leucine oxidation is decreased, and nitrogen balance is preserved with an increased protein intake (14). This phenomenon creates an atmosphere conducive to muscular growth and hypertrophy.

Protein intake is a highly individualized component of nutrition that requires consideration of training variables, overall calorie intake, energy expenditure, current LBM, and overall goals.

The ISSN recommendation of 1.4-2.0g/kg serves as a great baseline for protein intake and the athlete or active individual.

Higher protein intakes may be warranted for resistance-trained, lean bodybuilders with a lower body starting point, especially when in caloric restriction, in efforts to preserve fat free mass (FFM) (14).

For example, a trained individual deep into contest prep for a bodybuilding or figure competition on a calorie restricted diet may benefit from protein needs beyond the 1.4-2.0g/kg recommendation.


Implications of protein intake during contest prep. What does the science say?

Implications for dietary protein intake during contest prep. What does the science say?

A competitive powerlifter with low body fat (more metabolically active tissue) who’s training consists of high frequency with periodized mesocycles of volume and intensity blocks may have more of a metabolic demand for higher protein intakes as well – given total caloric intake is accounted for.

Furthermore, trained natural athletes typically add lean body mass at a relatively slow pace.

In my experiences, if a natural athlete can add 1-3 lbs. of actual lean body mass a year — that is remarkable.

Marketing ads claim you can add 15-20 lbs of muscle a year by taking this natural XYZ supplement or by following this XYZ diet.

This simply is not feasible for a trained, natural athlete.

Adding lean body mass to one’s frame is a tedious process that takes time, patience, and precision in both nutrition and training.

Two pounds of lean flank steak. Imagine two pounds of lean body mass accumulation on your frame. That is quite a bit of fat free tissue!

Two pounds of lean flank steak. Imagine two pounds of lean body mass accumulation on your frame. That is quite a bit of fat free tissue!

Again, protein intake needs to be individualized within the parameters of one’s diet and goals.

One size does not fit all.

Myth 6: “Creatine is a harmful, unnatural substance.”

Let me preface this section of the article by stating that creatine is not a steroid.

Just the other day, I heard overheard a grown man at the gym stating creatine was a steroid.


Creatine is a molecule used in the body’s innate energy systems that produces adenosine tri-phosphate (ATP).

Creatine is not hormonal. Creatine is a safe supplement with over twenty years of research (15).

In fact, creatine is found naturally in small quantities in most of our meat products such as chicken, turkey, fish, and red meat.

When an individual supplements with creatine, the body stores the creatine as phosphocreatine to later be released as energy from the cell during bouts of high-intensity exercise such as sprinting or completing a 3 repetition max (3RM) on the barbell squat.

Creatine supplementation can improve high intensity exercise output.

Creatine supplementation can improve high intensity exercise output.

Most literature reviews and meta-analysis studies report positive effects when creatine is supplemented during periods of high-intensity exercise (17). When the effects of creatine supplementation on performance and training adaptations were reviewed, some research reports an average increase in sprint performance upwards of 5% and increases in both muscular strength and repetitions to failure by 5-15% (17).

However, if you are a long distance runner (any distance greater than 1 mile), creatine will not improve your performance because your body is relying on a different set of energy systems for this duration of exercise.

There are several forms of creatine on the market, but creatine monohydrate is the:

a) most commonly used in studies
b) most heavily researched
c) most cost-effective

If I want to supplement with creatine, the manufacturer recommends I “load”. Is loading really necessary?

Creatine loading refers to “cycling” creatine with a loading phase, a maintenance phase, and an “off week.”

For the loading phase, an individual would take 20g creatine for 5-7 days. This is “necessary” for creatine reserves to accumulate/top off in our muscle cells.

Then for the following 4 weeks, 5g each day is recommended. After 4 weeks of taking 5g per day, take a week off from supplementing creatine.

This is an example of a loading phase.

In my opinion, the more common (and the more cost-effective method of taking creatine) is simply supplementing 3-5g creatine daily. Your rate of muscle saturation with creatine will be much less vs. loading initially, but muscle creatine saturation will eventually be equivocal.


1 teaspoon of creatine monohydrate (roughly 5g).

1 teaspoon of creatine monohydrate (roughly 5g).

Bottom line: loading creatine is not necessary and the benefits are doing so are trivial compared to traditionally taking 3-5g creatine daily.

Taking creatine is safe and, in power based sports of short duration, is effective in potentially increasing performance by up to 15%.

If you are looking for a little boost in your performance and don’t mind shelling out a couple of bucks, creatine may be your supplement.




1. Da Silva MS, Rudkowska I. Dairy nutrients and their effect on inflammatory profile in molecular studies. Molecular nutrition & food research. Jul 2015;59(7):1249-1263.
2. Panagiotakos DB, Pitsavos CH, Zampelas AD, Chrysohoou CA, Stefanadis CI. Dairy products consumption is associated with decreased levels of inflammatory markers related to cardiovascular disease in apparently healthy adults: the ATTICA study. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Aug 2010;29(4):357-364.
3. Labonte ME, Couture P, Richard C, Desroches S, Lamarche B. Impact of dairy products on biomarkers of inflammation: a systematic review of randomized controlled nutritional intervention studies in overweight and obese adults. The American journal of clinical nutrition. Apr 2013;97(4):706-717.
4. Markey O, Vasilopoulou D, Givens DI, Lovegrove JA. Dairy and cardiovascular health: Friend or foe? Nutrition bulletin / BNF. Jun 2014;39(2):161-171.
5. Dwyer JT, Fulgoni VL, 3rd, Clemens RA, Schmidt DB, Freedman MR. Is “processed” a four-letter word? The role of processed foods in achieving dietary guidelines and nutrient recommendations. Advances in nutrition. Jul 2012;3(4):536-548.
6. Weaver CM, Dwyer J, Fulgoni VL, 3rd, et al. Processed foods: contributions to nutrition. The American journal of clinical nutrition. Jun 2014;99(6):1525-1542.
7. Miles CW, Wong NP, Rumpler WV, Conway J: Effect of circadian variation in energy expenditure, within-subject variation and weight reduction on thermic effect of food. Eur J Clin Nutr 1993, 47:274-284.
8. Rosenbaum, M et al. Effects of experimental weight perturbation on skeletal muscle work efficiency in human subjects. Am J Physiology Regul Integ Comp Physiology.. 2003 Jul;285(1):R183-92. Epub 2003 Feb 27.
9. Marjet J. M. Munsters, Wim H. M. Saris. Effects of Meal Frequency on Metabolic Profiles and Substrate Partitioning in Lean Healthy Males. PLoS One. 2012; 7(6): e38632. Published online 2012 June 13. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.003863.
10. McArdle, William D., Frank I. Katch, and Victor L. Katch. Exercise physiology: nutrition, energy, and human performance*. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2015.
11. Taylor MA, Garrow JS. Compared with nibbling, neither gorging nor a morning fast affect short-term energy balance in obese patients in a chamber calorimeter. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2001 Apr;25(4):519-28.
12. Verboeket-van de Venne WP, Westerterp KR. Influence of the feeding frequency on nutrient utilization in man: consequences for energy metabolism. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1991 Mar;45(3):161-9.
13. Campbell B, et al International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: protein and exercise . J Int Soc Sports Nutr. (2007).
14. Wilson J, Wilson GJ Contemporary issues in protein requirements and consumption for resistance trained athletes . J Int Soc Sports Nutr. (2006).
15. Helms ER, Zinn C, Rowlands DS, Brown SR: A systematic review of dietary protein during caloric restriction in resistance trained lean athletes: a case for higher intakes. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 2013.
16. Groeneveld GJ, et al. Few adverse effects of long-term creatine supplementation in a placebo-controlled trial . Int J Sports Med. (2005).
17. Kreider RB. Effects of creatine supplementation on performance and training adaptations. Mol Cell Biochem. (2003) 244(1-2):89-94.

CTN Athlete Spotlight: Amanda Torres

27 Apr



1. Tell us a little about your journey and decision to compete in your first powerlifting meet.

I joined my first gym in 2012 weighing in at roughly 230 lbs. At this point in time my only goal was to get the weight off and become healthier.

I started with cardio because that was the only thing I had a clue about and thought weight lifting was for men (HA!). I absolutely hated cardio and took it upon myself to find another way to lose weight.



Before and after pictures of Amanda’s amazing transformation. Check out those medals Amanda racked up at her first powerlifting meet.


I was told about free weight lifting programs available on the internet. I followed a workout program template initially and became more comfortable with lifting weights.

After getting familiar with the weights in 2013 I had a trainer at the gym show me the various powerlifting moves (squat, bench press, and deadlift) and I immediately wanted to know more and get better.

I attended my first powerlifting meet as a spectator shortly thereafter.

Observing the level of camaraderie between lifters and watching the athletes approach the platform with adrenaline and unmatched focus only to lift big weight motivated me to ultimately compete one day.

I was determined to make it to the platform.

I kept training hard and finally hired my two coaches in September of 2014 and decided on competing in February 2015.

On February 28th I competed in the 165 lb weight class and took first place in the open and juniors division with a 726 lb total at the USPA Lifting for a Miracle meet.

That day I became immediately hooked and I look forward to competing again.

Amanda pulling some big weight at her powerlifting debut.

Amanda pulling some big weight at her powerlifting debut.


2. What motivates you each day?

I think what motivates me each day is my competitive nature.

I am constantly trying to be better than I was yesterday.

I envision myself becoming better and better each day, so I have to make it a reality and just get out there and do it.

3. What did you enjoy most about your journey to the platform?

What I really enjoyed most about my journey was seeing my progress and how my hard work was paying off.

Sometimes I would get discouraged and wondered if this path was really for me, but then I would see a hint of progress and it would set me straight.

The feeling of putting in countless hours in the gym and balancing my nutrition while seeing my plan unfold beautifully is indescribable.

4. What, in your opinion, was the biggest obstacle you faced during your transformation?

The biggest obstacle I faced during my transformation was really trusting the process and staying mentally strong.

I had so many days where I would look in the mirror and question if my programming and nutrition was even working.

I would get down in the dumps and feel defeated.

The next day I would have to pick myself back up and tell myself I could do it and push even harder.

Keeping your head in the game and having faith in the process is important to achieve that desired return on investment.


Visualization: Seeing where you are going and looking back at how far you have come.

5. Describe your experience in working with coaches Tyler and Mike from Cornerstone.

Working with Tyler and Mike has seriously been the best decision I’ve made since taking my health and fitness into my own hands.

They have been there every step of the way for me and have really taken my strength to the next level.

They both respond quickly and really take the time to answer any questions I have involving my training, nutrition, or personal questions.

I am so grateful to call them my coaches and good friends.

6. What advice do you have for beginner and intermediate lifters thinking about competing in powerlifting?

My advice for anyone considering competing in powerlifting would be to absolutely go for it with all you have.

Powerlifting has really changed my life for the better and gives me a purpose to train and goals to work for.

Train hard, trust the process, and be proud of the end product.

7. Any last motivational words

“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.” – Napoleon Hill

A simplistic, wholesome view: sustainable eating

13 Apr



The more I am around fitness and nutrition, the more I observe.

Social media has become an outlet for “gurus” to share information that has anecdotally worked for them and for their clients.

Alarmism and scare tactics pertaining to nutrition and food ingredients are becoming increasingly more prevalent.

Nutrition trends are becoming the flavor of the week.

Welcome to the fitness industry.

Here you will likely find several folks operating out of their scope of practice on a daily basis – dispensing nutrition information and unsolicited advice with no credentials, licensure, or pertinent education.

Bad information is passed around regularly – leading to misconceptions, confusion, and oversimplification of nutrition principles.

Firsthand, practical experience with specific training and nutrition protocols is a “lab” in its own entity in the realm of body composition improvement.

Having the ability to logically reason, comprehend, and synthesize ideas and concepts in conjunction with practical experience is what sets the good coaches apart from the bad coaches in this industry.

Finding the truth: reasoning & rationale

“Counting calories and tracking macronutrients doesn’t work.”

“Don’t eat white rice – it turns into sugar in the body too quickly.”

“Never eat carbohydrates past 6pm.”

“Eat every two hours to boost your metabolism.”

“Eating clean is the best way to get leaner”

What do all these phrases have in common?

All of these phrases are illogical fallacies with a strong lack of rationale, reasoning, and evidence-based support.

Time and time again, I overhear folks making these or similar statements.

Become an educated consumer.

Do not be afraid to question someone’s rationale or reasoning behind a statement.

What does the science say?

What is the reasoning and rationale behind prescribing a specific nutrition or training methodology?

The best coaches and professionals in this industry rely on research as a cornerstone to construct the very foundations of their stance on controversial issues, their beliefs, and subsequently, their delivery.

Evidence-based research is endlessly more reliable than statements made by the ripped, fly-by-night trainer at the gym.

squat tw

Cornerstone Coach, Tyler, understands the duality of both practical experience and evidence-based training research.


The importance of connotation

At the beginning of the New Year, you likely heard an individual state that he or she would be “going on a diet.”

This just in.

Diets do not work.

“Going on a diet” means someday that you are going to go off a diet.

If we take the literal meaning of the word “diet,” we make the connection that our diet is composed of the food and drink we consume daily for nourishment purposes.

Our diet is what gives us sustenance necessary for growth, health, and overall functionality.

Sustainable eating is not a diet. Rather, sustainable eating is a concept.

Sustainable eating is not a fad. Sustainable eating is not a diet of exclusion.


Sustainable nutrition is not a fad. It is a conceptual approach to support your specific short and long term goals through nutrition.


Sustainable eating

Sustainable eating allows you to modify your daily choices based on food preferences, accessibility, and goals.

The concept of eating for sustenance, albeit controlling for calories and macronutrients, enables you to enjoy your favorite foods without feeling guilty.

Similar to flexible dieting, sustainable eating enables you to have complete freedom over your food preferences.

There is no “cookie-cutter meal plan” that you “have” to follow.

Nutrition prescriptions are individualized

Each individual has a daily caloric and macronutrient (carbohydrate, protein, fat) nutrition prescription based on his or her age, height, weight, physical activity level, and of course the overall goal.

Your nutrition should support your goals.

If you’re trying to lose fat, you need to eat fewer calories.

If you’re trying to gain weight, you need to eat more calories.

If you’re trying to maintain your current body weight, you need to eat at your maintenance caloric level.

As simple as it sounds, it’s the simple truth.

There are no specific foods you “should” eat in order to “be healthy” or to reach your goals instantly.

Consistency is paramount.

Sustainable practices are even more paramount for long-term compliance, health, overall feelings of well-being, and longevity.


Cornerstone Coach, Mike, understands that consistency over time results in the desired end result.


Sustainable eating: general recommendations

As long as macronutrient numbers and calories are hit, specificity of a food can be placed on the back burner to honor personal food preferences to hit your nutrition prescription.

For example, let’s say you are logging your calories and macronutrients. You are short about 50g carbohydrates come dinner time. You have 4 oz. flank steak and ½ cup green beans already accounted for in your food log. You begin looking for carbohydrate-rich foods to pair with your steak and veggies.

You peruse the kitchen and cupboards only to find a bag of white potatoes and a bag of sweet potatoes. In an effort to fill in the gaps for your carbohydrate macronutrients, you compare macronutrients of the two items.

Upon further comparison, you notice the sweet potatoes are growing some mold on them. They are out of date.

You always heard sweet potatoes were “better for you, ” but per 6 oz. the potatoes are identical in macronutrient composition supplying roughly 50g carbohydrates per 6 oz — Just enough to hit your allotment.

You decide to have the white potato with your steak and green beans. You feel guilt for eating a white potato after your “coach” recently told you to “stay away from all white starches.”

Regret and self-pity set in.

Have you abandoned ship and derailed your “nutrition meal plan” entirely?


White potatoes and sweet potatoes certainly have nutritional differences; however, one is not necessarily “better” than the other. White potatoes have a higher magnesium, iron, and potassium content. On the other hand, sweet potatoes have more vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant) and dietary fiber.


Sweet potatoes vs. white potatoes. What’s the verdict?


The goal of sustainable eating is to shift our thinking of foods as “clean” or “dirty,” to recognizing them for their macronutrient composition – while keeping micronutrient content into consideration.

Doing this will only help you understand the freedom of food selection that sustainable eating encompasses.

General recommendations sustainable eating fosters:

  • Aim for 14g of fiber per 1000 kcals
  • 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day
  • Inclusion of nutrient-dense foods that you enjoy
  • Strive to make half your grains whole grains (if able to tolerate wheat products)
  • Abidance to the 80/20 rule (read below to learn more)

Misconceptions of Sustainable Eating

  1. “Macronutrient counting doesn’t work for me.”

Even if you are eating “clean” or following a specific diet protocol like the caveman diet or some bizarre fad diet, the food and drink you consume contains macronutrients.

Remember – macronutrients include carbohydrate, protein, and fat. These energy-yielding nutrients are found abundantly in our food and drink.

For every diet and nutritional approach, there are specific macronutrient numbers in the foods you consume.

Essentially, every day you eat – you are consuming macronutrients.

Logging your macronutrients and calories specific to your goal allows for fine tuning and adjustments once progress stalls.

When clean eaters hit a plateau with their fat loss goals, what adjustments does that individual make?

Do they eat cleaner?

Be right back. Washing my food with soap and dish detergent.

I cannot reiterate the importance of consistency over time. Perhaps the greatest benefit of sustainable eating is that it revolves around consistency and allows the individual to take ownership of his or her food selection, meal frequency, and tolerances while adhering to the most important dictator of body composition: energy balance.

kayla DL

Cornerstone athlete, Kayla, lays the foundational cornerstone with her approach to sustainable eating and training day in and day out. The very blueprint of her drive and dedication is her consistency and relentlessness pursuit.


  1. “Flexible dieting and sustainable eating is just an excuse to eat junk food.”

Sustainable eating isn’t about eating just ice cream and pizza to hit your numbers. Often times, I see posts on social media outlets of flexible dieters sharing pictures of cake pastries and ice cream with a hashtag promoting flexible dieting.

What you don’t see is posts of lean protein sources, veggies, fruits, whole grains, and essential fats.



Wholesome food choices. 80/20 rule at it’s finest.


Sustainable eating comprehensively includes and promotes the 80/20 rule.

That is, you choose nutrient-dense, wholesome foods 80% of the time.

The remaining 20% of your nutritional approach welcomes and even fosters that inclusion of daily treats or “junk food” you enjoy – all while being accounted for in your total caloric and macronutrient allotment.

It’s more practical to enjoy a small treat daily, keeping energy balance in mind, rather than binging on the weekends after eating “clean” 5 days in a row.

Stay sane: choose a nutritional approach you can maintain

Sustainable eating is about discovering the degree of flexibility in a nutritional approach that works for you.

The degree of flexibility is going to vary from person to person.

Rather than rigidly dieting, completely excluding foods you once enjoyed, and jumping ship from your social life in an effort to get lean – sustainable eating harbors and welcomes practicality and sensibility.

Choose a nutritional approach you can maintain. Your mind and body will thank you.

Fundamentals of Program Design: Introduction

29 Dec

The most common topic that I am repeatedly asked about is strength training programs.  Wendler’s 531, Madcow 5×5, Starting Strength, and Smolov are just a few that get mentioned quite frequently.  If you sampled enough people you will find a person that has attained good results with each program.  Within that same sample you will find another person that had a negative experience with each program.

When asked about my thoughts on a specific training program, my answer is always “it depends.”  I cannot give a short simple answer.  It depends is the best answer because it is honest.

I cannot determine whether “program X” is optimal for Johnny Bravo without obtaining more information about the athlete such as, training status, previous training volume, training frequency, training schedule, training goals, and competition timeline.  The list could go on and on.  All of these factors must be accounted for when determining which training program should be utilized.

Would each of the programs mentioned above work for the normal strength training athlete?  Quite possibly.  But are you wanting something that works or are you wanting something that is optimal?  You want your hard work in the gym to yield the best results possible, so you need a program that will optimize your training.  I don’t believe there is one perfect training method, but I do believe that some are more optimal than others depending on each athletes specific needs.  Before we start discussing what makes a program effectives, we need to understand the purpose of training in the first place.

Strength is one of the five components of fitness.  Fitness is the body’s ability to cope with a specific task under certain conditions (Siff 2003).  We use training as a means to achieve fitness.  By incorporating physical loading we are able to stimulate our neurological and muscular system to induce a positive training effect.  The training effect is specific to the task being performed.  This principle known as the Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands (SAID principle) explains how the body will adapt to a specific stimuli imposed on the body.  This concept is very important when constructing a training program.  The outcome of the training program will be directly affected by the specific stimuli provided.  In order to have a continued positive training effect, the training stimulus must occur above the habitual level.  This is the principle of progressive overload.  If Johnny Bravo goes into the gym and does 3 sets of 10 on the bench press at 225lbs once a week for 3 months, his body will have already adapted to that stimulus. In order for him to progress, he would need to increase the weight on the bar, number of reps, number of sets, or number of times the movement is performed each week.  There are many variables that can be manipulated and we will discuss that more as we get into the other parts of this series.

When we stress our physiological systems by imposing certain demands, our body responds by adapting to the environment.  You have certainly experienced this if you have been training for at least a couple of weeks.  The fact that you are able to perform a certain number of repetitions with a greater amount of weight is your body’s expression of adaptation.  Hans Selye created a model (Figure 1) that shows the response to stressors within a living system (Selye 1956).  There are many factors that can act as stressors and affect our ability to recover (Figure 2).  Because exercise is commonly used as a stress relief tactic, most people do not realize that it is actually a stressor on the body.  Depending on the intensity and volume of training, it can be a major stressor on the body. Selye’s model of General Adaptation Syndrome is commonly used in understanding the development of strength training adaptations (Siff 2003).

General Adaptation Syndrome Picture

As a stressor is presented, initial decrements in performance will occur.  During this phase, you will probably notice muscle soreness and fatigue.  Recovery is the process of the athlete returning to the same physiological state as before the exercise session (Stone 2007).

Here is an example: Johnny Bravo performs a 5 rep max on the bench press and achieves 275 lbs.  Three days later, he returns to the gym and attempts to a 5 rep max with 275.  If he is able to able to get all 5 reps than he has fully recovered from the previous exercise session.  However, if he achieves 6 reps, than a positive training adaptation has occurred.  His previous training stimulus has caused his body to “compensate” and increase his bench press strength.

If the stress of training is within our body’s physiological adaptive capabilities, we will compensate with greater strength.  However as you can see in the decompensation phase, decreases in strength can occur if the stressor is maintained for long periods above our body’s adaptive capabilities.  If maintained for long enough, this phase can lead to a state of overtraining. Being able to manage training variables is crucial to providing the right amount of stress in order to attain a supercompensation of strength.  For this reason, having a periodized training plan is vital if you seek to increase your competition lifts.

Stressors Affecting Recovery Picture

Periodization is the logical planning and manipulation of training variables in order to increase the potential for achieving specific performance goals (Stone 2007).   As stated, periodization involves planning.  If you are preparing for a competition, your training must be planned to lead you into peak performance on the day you step on the platform.  Periodization also involves the manipulation of training variables.  Training intensity, volume, and frequency must be prescribed according to the needs of the athlete.  The use of periodized training helps to achieve two goals: 1) reduce the potential for overtraining and 2) peaking for a specific competition (Stone 2007).  This is where cookie-cutter programs fail.  They are too generic, and are not individually tailored for each specific athlete.  For “athlete A”, program X may be too much of a stressor that pushes him/her into a state of extreme fatigue that requires a greater length of time to recover or adapt.  However, the same program may not provide enough of a stimulus for “athlete B” and no positive training effect will occur.

Throughout the rest of this series, we are going to discuss the components of a periodized training plan and how to appropriately organize training intensity, training volume, and training frequency.


1. Selye, H. The stress of life. , 1956.

2. Siff, MC, and Verkhoshansky, YV. Supertraining: Special Strength Training for Sporting Excellence: A Textbook on the Biomechanics and Physiology of Strength Conditioning for all Sport. School of Mechanical Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand, 1993.

3. Stone, MH, Stone, M, Sands, WA, and Sands, B. Principles and Practice of Resistance Training. Human Kinetics, 2007.

Manifest in Motivation

20 Dec



As cliché as it may sound, many argue everything happens for a reason.

Everything happens because something has caused it to happen.

The law of “cause and effect” can be connected to the choices we make — which in turn result in a particular outcome.

For a given outcome, there is often a cause.

A lackluster diet coupled with poor physical activity habits can result in poor health.

Regularly practicing free throw shots in basketball warm-ups usually results in improved performance from the charity stripe.

Consistently attending class and investing time in completing assignments typically results in good grades.

Failing to stay up-to-date on maintaining a vehicle’s required service recommendations can lead to expedient depreciation of the vehicle.

Choices are causes.

We have choices to make every day.

What we do in the present can influence our tomorrow.

We become what we repeatedly do.

Defining Your Success

Success is highly individualized and contextual.

The definition of success is different for everyone.

Society’s perception of what success is or what success looks like is meaningless.

You define your own success.

What you plan to accomplish ultimately determines whether you are successful or not.

Everything may happen for a reason; however, nothing just happens.

Taking a results-driven approach, whatever the goal, will bring you a step closer to meeting a goal head on.

Goals, big or small, have to be worked at.

Goals, no matter how big or small, have to be worked at.

Goals, no matter how big or small, have to be worked at.

The S.M.A.R.T method

Goals can be short-term or long-term.

At any rate, using the S.M.A.R.T method is a surefire way to assist you in achieving a goal.

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Attainable

R– Realistic

T – Timely

Specific: The more precise and clear a goal is, the greater the chance of it being accomplished when compared to a general goal.

For instance, a general goal is “I want to lose some belly fat.”

On the other hand, a specific goal is “I will lose 2% body fat in two months by following a tailored nutrition and training program catered to me.”

Measurable: How will you measure your progress towards attaining the goal? What data will you collect?

When you measure your goal, you are more apt to stay on track. ‘

Continuously monitoring and tracking will expose adjustments that need to be made.

Furthermore, when we track our path towards an outcome, we learn more about the process itself and pick up on trends propelling us or derailing us from our goal – giving us valuable feedback to adjust accordingly.

Attainable: I enjoy telling clients that a goal isn’t a goal until you write it down on paper.

Goals remain imaginative dreams until you physically write them down.

Make your dreams your goals.

When you write down your goal on paper, you are more likely to build your self-image and begin to see yourself developing the traits and characteristics needed to accomplish the goal.

Realistic: A goal must be representative of what you are willing to do and what you are able to do. Those boundaries are different for everyone and ultimately relate back to experience and motivation.

For example, a newly trained athlete wanting to bench press 315 lbs by February 2015 when his current one rep max is 225 lbs is highly unlikely.

This is not a realistic goal.

We must be true with ourselves and if we are tracking and measuring progress, we should have a strong inkling as to what our capabilities and desired outcome will look like.

Timely: With no established time frame, there is no sense of urgency to accomplish the goal.

If you set a date for obtaining your goal, you subject yourself to be held captive working towards that goal each and every day.

Timing is everything.

Timing is everything.

Manifest in Motivation

Whether your goal is to be a successful business owner, become a homeowner, squat 500 pounds, earn an advanced degree, or recover from intensive open heart surgery – the conscious choice of manifesting in motivation will often times make your goal more tangible and attainable.

What is manifesting in motivation?

  • Submerse yourself in your goal.
  • Live the process.
  • Fall in love with the process.
  • Endure in the challenges and obstacles the process presents.
  • Overcome and outlast

Above all, trust the process.


Focus, drive, and desire.

Trust the process.

Trust the Process

To fully reach a goal, one must have faith.

Faith is to have a deep-rooted trust in what cannot be seen.

Having faith is learning how to operate in the present, but visualizing the future the best you can. Often times, having faith is inherently possessing a sense of knowing and certainty which can guide us.

Not knowing what is unfolding or why is perhaps the biggest challenge when establishing trust in the process.

It is often in these times of uncertainty that we may get discouraged or feel defeated.

However, if we subject ourselves to endure and continue to work towards our goal, whatever it may be, results will often follow.

If success was a linear process, we would all have met our goal with ease last year.

I enjoy a challenge.

I want to experience the non-linear process of achieving a goal.

Some days will be better. Other days will be worse.

Find the blessings and positives each day brings. Live out your goal.

Visualize what it is you want to achieve and it will become more concrete.

The components of achieving a desired outcome are influenced by our desire, choices, and motivation.

Above all, the cornerstone of meeting our goal head on is rooted in our faith and trusting the process.

Trust the process and results will follow.


Hard work breeds success.

Hard work breeds success.



Clearing the clutter: Does clean eating exist?

6 Oct




Nutrition misconceptions are becoming more prevalent in the fitness industry. The fitness industry is filled with coaches and “experts” making blanket statements, extreme generalizations, and using illogical reasoning to support nutrition and fitness claims.

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of knowledgeable coaches and individuals in this field who provide and promote sustainable, evidence-based information.

There are no “gurus” in this field. I am not a guru.

The word guru carries a connotation of “all-knowing.”

And there is always more to learn.

The folks in this industry who are constantly learning more and advancing their knowledge base, while acknowledging acquired foundational principles and mechanisms related to all things physiology and logic are most primed to dispense credible information and guidance.

Perhaps folks are torn between what to interpret as factual, what is the truth, and what is rubbish. Nutrition “buzzwords” flood our food industry and the passing of bad information from person to person is common.

Just because Mary Jo is following the gluten-free diet per her trainer’s recommendations does not mean you should jump on the gluten-free bandwagon.

Nutrition is not a trend.Nutrition is a science.

Are you ready to check out?

Just the other day I was standing in the grocery store check-out line. I usually eye the tabloids and “health” magazines for some comical entertainment. It is not uncommon to see magazine headlines promoting  ridiculous claims of a celebrity losing an astronomical amount of weight in a matter of days accomplished by eating XYZ food or following XYZ diet.

As I continued to load my groceries on the conveyor belt, the cashier scanned my groceries.

I had my usual groceries on the belt – mostly nutrient-dense foods. My “staples” as I like to call them – including chicken, eggs, tuna, oatmeal, rice, bread, potatoes, fruits, and veggies.

However, I also had foods I enjoy on a daily basis – frozen yogurt, cake pastries, sugary cereal, pizza dough, and dough for making cinnamon rolls.


Cake pastries and lowfat frozen yogurt.

The cashier continued to scan my groceries and gave me an inquisitive look when she started to scan my “fun food.”

She then asked, “Is this food for someone else?”

I replied, “No, it’s all mine.”

She then asked me why I was purchasing “good foods” and “bad foods.”

I started to explain to the cashier about how I follow flexible dieting, a nutritional approach where food preferences are honored and calories are accounted for which enables me to reach my body composition and performance goals without sacrificing the enjoyment of food.

The experience I had at the grocery store was just one of the many instances where the principles of flexible dieting have been explained to another individual. Face value, people are going to bark at the sugar in the frozen yogurt or the processed cake pastries.

But what does the science say?

Are there good foods?

Are there bad foods?

Clean Eating

Perhaps the biggest myth embedded in the fitness industry is that specific foods are bad for you and should be avoided.

The “clean eating” approach is an example of deep-rooted dogma that ignores the foundational principles of thermodynamics, energy balance, and personal food preferences.

Most diet books or diet “gurus” focus on elimination of specific foods because they are “bad.”

But in what context are these foods “bad?”

The leanest guy at the gym will tell you he doesn’t ever eat XYZ food.

The fittest woman at the gym will tell you she eats “clean” five days out of the week and then has a cheat day on Saturday.

Ask ten people what clean eating is and you will get a different response from each person. There is no operational, working definition of “clean eating.”


unnamed (1)

Homemade pizza. But wait. The dough is made from white flour. Should I be concerned?

Let’s take a look.

Steve is a competitive bodybuilder in contest prep. Steve is unaware of flexible dieting. Steve has a diet that consists of primarily chicken, sweet potatoes, egg whites, brown rice, oatmeal, and broccoli.

Steve labels red meat, white potatoes, egg yolks, white rice, enriched cereal, and fruit as “dirty” or “bad.”

Vegetarians might define animal meats as “bad.”

Paleo followers will label grains, legumes, dairy, and some starches as “bad.”

An absence in the contextual and operational framework of “clean eating” makes objective comparisons to other dietary patterns nearly impossible.

With that being said, comparing the principles of a “clean diet” with other eating patterns holds no water.

The problem with attempting to make a comparison between “clean eating” and other diets stems back to the concept that there is no clear-cut, concise definition of what “clean eating” is.

white rice vs dirty

A close-minded view some folks may have towards rice. Brown rice is “clean” while white rice is “dirty.” Calorie for calorie, both are the same. Micronutrients and fiber composition may differ between the two, but both can be incorporated into a balanced diet.


Energy Balance and Metabolism

There is not a single food that will help you lose weight.

There is not a single food that will make you gain fat.

Fat loss and fat gain are both dictated by total calories consumed in relation to calories burned.

Pointing the finger at a specific food and saying “XYZ causes fat gain” is missing the boat. We should consider the entire caloric intake in relation to expended calories before making rash assumptions.

Foods that have been arbitrarily and historically labeled as “clean” such as oatmeal, chicken breast, brown rice, tilapia, and sweet potatoes are much more difficult to overindulge on when compared to other foods that may contain more sugar or fat grams per serving.

Excluding certain foods from the diet because the individual may binge on these foods is a school of thought perpetrated by clean eaters. This notion implies that you will overindulge on these foods when consumed.

This is a very imperceptive and limited school of thought that fails to recognize mindful eating, moderation, and flexibility in the diet.



Waffles topped with greek yogurt, low sugar maple syrup, and cinnamon.


The Importance of Context

Estimated caloric needs are going to differ between individual to individual.

Tricia, an endurance athlete training for a triathlon, is going to have a greater estimation of energy needs than Jim, a sedentary bank teller.

With that being said, let’s say Tricia’s estimated caloric needs based on her intense training and anthropometrical data puts her at 6,000 calories per day.

Tricia’s trainer told her to eat “clean.”

How feasible is that going to be for Tricia?

It would be advisable and more advantageous for Tricia to focus on calorie dense foods — while continuously striving for nutrient-density and balancing her micronutrient and macronutrient needs.

Jim, on the other hand, recently began an exercise regimen – working with a certified personal trainer and dietitian.

Jim is slightly overweight and has had battles with balancing portions and serving sizes in the past.

He has had trainers in the past place him on overly restrictive diets of exclusion with no luck.

Jim’s estimated needs and training experience is much less than Tricia’s. With that being said, a focus on nutrient-density while focusing on diet flexibility on a much smaller scale than Tricia is most advisable for Jim.


unnamed (2)

A food scale and measuring tools that will enable Jim to hold himself accountable for energy and macronutrient intake, while learning the art of recognizing serving sizes.


The 80/20 rule would be a great rule of thumb for Jim to follow – meaning 80% of the time, Jim is to select nutrient-dense foods to hit his caloric and macronutrient needs. The other 20%, Jim selects foods he enjoys that may not be entirely nutrient-dense.

What good does this nutritional approach do for Jim?

Given Jim’s past experiences, this practice instills the principle of balance and moderation for Jim and teaches him the art of balancing food selection and macronutrients – while allowing Jim to enjoy food, maintain mental sanity, and dismisses him from overly restrictive diet practices.

Conclusion: Cleaning up the Confusion

Moderation, flexibility, and balance construct the foundation of a strong nutritional approach. Excluding foods from the diet without a surefire rationale compromises freedom and liberation in the diet.

When too much analysis into specific ingredients and food items is present, individuals oversimplify nutrition by focusing on the parts and not the whole.

Proactive promotion of a practical total nutrition approach which emphasizes sensibility, individualization, and energy balance within the context of goals and lifestyle fosters an environment that welcomes healthy eating behaviors and longevity.

Q&A with Kayla Lindsay: Enjoying the Journey

11 Sep



1. Tell us a little about how you got started in competing.

This was a long journey that started with changing my eating habits in my final year of undergrad. From that point on, seemingly small changes morphed into major lifestyle changes. And here I am today.

My journey dates back to my college days. I was living and breathing the college life. Parties, booze, and less than stellar food selections were staples in my life throughout the week.

One day, it hit me. I wanted to make changes. I wanted to feel better about myself.

I started by making small manageable dietary changes and then it just kept evolving. As I continued to change my ways,  I fell in love with health and fitness. From 2009-2013, I adopted a healthier lifestyle, found passion, strength, and formed friendships in pole fitness.

Over the course of those years, I went from 212lbs to 150lbs.

I can vividly remember conversing with a fellow pole fitness competitor at the pole fitness studio about bodybuilding.  The same girl convinced me to compete with her in a local bodybuilding (figure) show. I did a little research and said, “Count me in, challenge accepted.”

I had 12-weeks to hit the stage and I couldn’t wait to try this new.

Another successful season later here we are. I am healthier, confident, motivated, and inspiring others along the way.

2. Your stage presence is uniquely unmatched. You certainly have an aura while on stage. What goes through your mind when you finally step foot onto that stage after countless weeks of contest prep and precision training and nutrition?




Well, there are about a million thoughts going through my head before even a foot steps across the stage.

But when the time comes to line up, I get in the zone. I know that there is nothing more I can do. I’ve put in my 150% to get to this day and regardless of the placing outcome, I’ve brought the best me to that stage.

Right before I step on stage, I remind myself that this is the time and place I get to show off all my hard work.

All the sacrifice. All the late night gym sessions. The grueling high intensity interval sessions. The entire journey. The destination.

The gauntlet has been thrown down and now it’s just time to go out and dominate. And I like to dominate.

3. What was the biggest obstacle you faced during contest prep and how did you manage?

The biggest obstacle is not with diet or training. In fact,  diet and training is the easy part. The hard part is the mental game. Waking up morning after morning for months and looking in the mirror and becoming your own critic.

Then there’s social media or what I like to call the “social lens” of comparing yourself to your competitors. We all do it. I constantly had to remind myself that I am my ONLY competition and I can only train to be my best self.

Yes when competition day comes you are being compared to other girls, but there is NOTHING that you can do except give your 100% to training and bring your best package, the rest is up to the judges.

I am thankful for my coaches and friends who constantly remind me of this year-round.

We train with a purpose and we train to bring the best physical package possible.



4. Describe your experience working with Cornerstone Training and Nutrition coaches, Tyler and Mike.

Amazing. Not only are Tyler and Mike great coaches, they are two of my close friends.

Their educational background and experience is something of a rare find in a coaching team. They inspire confidence and always keep me motivated. I have been able to turn to them during some of my toughest days and they always know what to say to pick me back up.

I am thankful for their coaching but more than thankful for their friendship.



5. You are very driven and goal oriented. How do you maintain focus and stay motivated on accomplishing goals?

As I said earlier I like to dominate and put my best foot forward.

I am an an extremely competitive person in every aspect. When I set a goal for myself, I achieve it. I like to motivate and inspire others and I get gratification helping others reach their full potential.

As a health educator, leading by example is very important to me.

6. What advice do you have for those looking to venture out on a life goal?

First, find what motivates you. In order to accomplish a goal, the motivation has to come from within.

You can be inspired or motivated by others, but when it gets down to the real grind,  you have to depend on yourself.

So whatever goal you set for yourself make sure it is YOUR goal.

Second, support is important. Support networks including your family, peer, financial, and social support. Stress can be a goal killer. So having people in your social circle that support your goals is key.

Once you get started with your goal, you do not want to lose that momentum so always surround yourself with people who lift you up not bring you down.

Lastly, believe in yourself. Remember that you are always good enough and what you believe you can achieve.

Enjoy the journey. Embrace the destination.