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The Plex Fitness Report

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6 Lessons from Working in the Fitness Industry 6 Months

If you don’t know me yet, I am Ryan, the Minister of Magic at The Plex.

I came from waiting tables at On the Border to take my position here the end of November 2020.

Since I came into the industry, I have learned a lot and taken a few notes on weight loss, confidence, building muscle and more.

Here are a few of those notes…

Consistency>Perfection

If you are anything like me, you have felt the guilt of missing a workout or indulging in a meal that wasn’t part of your plan and fallen off the horse. 

You miss one workout and then miss a week. 

A week becomes two. 

A bad meal turns into a month of crash dieting and you find yourself in worse shape than you started.

This is caused by perfectionism. 

Whether you think you’re a perfectionist or not, we have these tendencies because we didn’t do perfect on our diet and exercise so we skew in the complete opposite direction. 

We feel like we have failed so we continue to self-sabotage. 

Shifting your mind to accept that consistency is more important than perfection is powerful. Just showing up everyday starts to have a compound effect. 

Even if you feel like you had a poor workout, or you ate a little more than you meant to, you are still doing better thanked you not tried. 

So don’t let the tiny set backs turn into a spiral out of control.

No one got fat from one “bad” meal. 

Nobody lost all their gains from one missed or mediocre workout.

Just get back on the horse!

Speaking of self-sabotage…

We are our own worst enemies

I feel like we first start working out with this preconceived notion that everybody is watching and judging us. 

Seeing how weak we are. 

Seeing how bad our form is or how we are using a piece of equipment wrong.

However, all I see in the gym all day is positive reinforcement from other members. 

Complete strangers taking the time to pop an earbud out to congratulate another member on their progress and how much weight they’ve lost or how much muscle they’ve grown.

Quite the opposite from the idea that there is judgement in the gym.

So that leads me to conclude that it must be our own inner voice, our own insecurities, and our own limiting beliefs filling us with these lies.

I’ve complimented guys much bigger and stronger than I am, that I am genuinely impressed by their physiques, only for them to self-deprecate.

 “Yeah, Ryan, but I still have all this belly fat” or “Yeah, I wish”

Which honestly breaks my heart that we beat ourselves up so much. 

To the few people that stumble onto these blogs, I just want to say give yourself credit for your wins. 

Quit beating yourselves up so much. 

Be proud of how far you’ve come. 

Look back on who you used to be and pat yourself on the back for your progress. 

You deserve to feel good about your progress. 

I am guilty every now and again of these pitfalls too, so know we all go through it, but I still wanted to address the issue.

Now with constantly trying to give positive feedback, I learned…

You tell someone something enough and they start to believe it

The flip side of giving encouragement and people not believing you, is it will eventually wear on them over time.

I am speaking from personal experience because I was always one of the weaker people growing up and was discouraged from trying to get stronger feeling like I was already behind everyone else.

This led me to never take the gym seriously.

But working here, I have people commend me all the time on how far I’ve come, or how strong I have gotten and you know what??

I finally believed them.

I finally saw the progress.

I finally became friends with the guy in the mirror.

And I have seen it work for many others as well.

So build people up as much as you can.

They might just need a little nudge to help them believe in themselves.

Focusing on getting strong is more effective than focusing on weight loss

As for my own weight loss experience, I have noticed when I focused on getting stronger, the pounds melted away and I became happy with how I looked much quicker than had I only focused on the scale. 

You must focus on strength training to lose significant weight, which is contrary to the cardio overload most people think you have to do to lose weight. 

Cardio can be used to lose weight but you get much more bang for you buck when putting on muscle.

Higher muscle mass speeds up you metabolism and causes you to burn more calories than with a lower muscle mass.

So there is a compound effect from getting stronger and putting on muscle because not only do you have the new muscle, but you also lose weight easier.

So if you have been burning yourself out on the treadmill, cut your cardio down to no more than 1-2 hours per week and start focusing on strength training.

And ladies that are worried about getting “bulky”…

I promise you, you won’t get ginormous by accident.

It takes incredible discipline to get as big as the ladies you see on the stage or at competitions.

But if you do incorporate some strength training, it will do things for your body that would make a plastic surgeon jealous.

Trust me on this one. 

Go lift some heavy weights

Variety makes fitness fun

I came into working here having only really done some basic strength training, a bit of yoga and coming fresh off a marathon. 

So I had tasted a few flavors, but the Plex offered so much more.

I tried spin, and even teach it from time to time now.

I tried Thunder with Terri, which surprised me the workout I got and how much fun I had.

I got into some powerlifting with Trey and he showed me how strong I was (despite my negative perception of my strength throughout my life).

I worked out with many different people with many different strengths that challenged me to develop my weaknesses.

And what doing all this did for me was show me how much fun changing it up can be.

Breaking up the monotony of fitness and tasting new flavors kept a fire in me to constantly challenge myself and get comfortable with getting out of my comfort zone.

So if you find fitness boring, change it up and try some different things and you will surprise yourself how reinvigorated you will feel.

Happiness is directly related to your focus on other people

And finally, my most important lesson…

This isn’t just a lesson for the workplace but a lesson for life in general.

I have had my best days at work when my full focus is “How can help people today?”

Serving others is the most selfish, selfless thing you can do because your aim is to help them, but they end up filling your soul up even more.

The more you give this world, the more it gives you back in return. 

So if you take anything from this blog…

Give more, serve more, give out a helping hand however you can.

If you find yourself unhappy in life, it is typically when you are too focused on yourself.

Try shifting that focus to others and I can almost guarantee it’ll turn it around for you.

These 6 lessons are just the tip of the iceberg.

The fitness industry is an incredibly rewarding industry.

I deem it ESSENTIAL.

Because I see lives changing everyday.

I see people getting to escape from whatever is troubling them.

This gym is a sanctuary.

It’s a happy place.

If you or someone you know has needed a nudge in taking care of themselves better,

Email me @ ryan.williams@hcesportsplex.com

I would love to help you feel as good as I get to feel every single day.

Peace out, Plex Fam and Happy Memorial Day!

Everything You Need to Know to Go from Skinny Fat to Fit

It is incredibly embarrassing posting before pics but as my mentor, Dr. Tim Reynolds, says

“You is where you is”

And the reality of my before picture is I had let myself become “Skinny Fat”

I had just finished college.

I put on the freshman 15 (more like 25)

I wasn’t obese but I definitely had more fat than was ideal and I had much lower muscle than I needed to have.

That is all I mean by skinny-fat…too much fat and not enough muscle.

Not only did this cause me to be unhappy with my body but…

My energy levels were low.

I had low confidence (and to be frank, I hadn’t EARNED the right to be confident).

I didn’t respect myself enough to leave a relationship that wasn’t working out.

I accepted much lower wages than I was worth.

Skinny fat is a frustrating place to find yourself.

And it doesn’t have to be for lack of effort either!

I was fairly regular at the gym the semester prior to me taking this picture.

But I was working out all wrong and hadn’t gotten my diet under control.

That is why I wrote this blog.

I know many guys find themselves in the skinny-fat stage and I don’t know many who wouldn’t want to have more muscle and less fat.

And once you take control of your health, everything else falls into place to.

People find you more attractive, thus giving you more confidence.

You are proud of the work you put into building a body you are satisfied with.

You will make more money.

Have better relationships.

Sleep better.

Have more sex drive.

Have more energy.

And a long list of other benefits.

So let’s break down just what needs to happen to transition from skinny fat to fit….

But first, let’s figure out why we are skinny fat in the first place.

The main reasons are

-excessive cardio

-little to no strength training

-not eating enough protein

-Too severe of a daily calorie deficit

When I found myself skinny fat, I was guilty of all 4 of these, but do not worry, these are simple to fix.

So I am going to give you a playbook on how to go from skinny fat to fit, which is essentially just doing the opposite of these 4 things.

First and foremost…

Strength Train 3-5 Times Per Week

This is the first and most important step because you get the most bang for your buck.

And this doesn’t have to be time consuming.

You can easily get a solid strength workout in 45 minutes to an hour, so we are looking at around 5 hours a week.

We all have the same 168 hours in a week so I really think everyone can carve out 3% of their week to train.

I said you get the most bang for your buck because strength training is the best way to build muscle.

And the higher muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolism will be.

After a strength workout, your body is consistently burning calories to try to repair your muscles for up to 72 hours after the workout.

Versus cardio where you are really only getting a boost in calories burned while you are exercising.

And when I say strength training, I mean lifting HEAVY.

I fell victim to thinking that high-rep, burn out workouts were the way to go, but I only saw minimal results.

Your body needs what is called progressive overload to build muscle.

All this means is it needs to be pushing itself to lift heavier weight, do more reps, or have varied mixes of tempo while doing your workout.

So only do a high rep workout periodically and stick to the 6-12 rep range to really grow some muscle.

And this is going to take some discipline.

But if it really is important for you to get fit, it will require daily consistency.

I am confident any guy can follow this first step.

Next we need to…

Prioritize Protein Intake

If you are going to put all this work in, you must fuel your body properly.

You can chase a lot of different fad diets, but this is the easiest, most sustainable way to think about dieting in my opinion.

During strength training, you are literally tearing your muscles and your body builds muscle by repairing these tears so they can get stronger and withstand the next time they are under stress.

To rebuild, they MUST have sufficient protein.

Studies suggest somewhere between .7-1 gram of protein per lb. you weigh.

So a 200lb. male needs somewhere between 140-200 grams of protein.

Beyond protein intake, you also have calories to watch as well, but I would argue focusing on protein intake is a much easier way to run your diet because it forces you to eat foods that will keep you full.

High protein foods like lean meats and fish will sustain your hunger for much longer that processed foods.

So aim to get 30-40 grams of protein per meal along with fruits and vegetables and you won’t have to stress much over your diet.

You can start out by using a tracker like MyFitnessPal to track your calorie intake and then move to a bit more intuitive eating once you get the hang of it.

Now I will say, it is difficult to try to add muscle and cut fat at the same time as your body needs a caloric surplus (more calories in than burnt in a day) to put on muscle and a caloric deficit(less calories in than burnt in a day) to lose weight.

So I would, personally, start out eating somewhere around your maintenance level (equal calories in as expended)  and continue to strength train and focus on protein intake.

If you find yourself putting on weight, you are probably in a surplus.

And if you are losing weight, you could be losing weight from fat, but you may also need to up what you are eating to give your body enough to put on muscle.

Now that we have strength training and diet down, let’s sprinkle some cardio in.

Mix in cardio, but don’t over do it

Now if you have been doing a lot of cardio and can’t see yourself shedding any weight, you may be working harder instead of smarter.

First off, you shouldn’t be spending any more than half the time you are spending lifting weights as you are doing cardio.

You can get your cardio a few different ways.

You can swim, walk on an elevated treadmill, ruck, box/martial arts, sprints…

The list goes on, but the main thing to note is doing too much will steal your gains.

For one, you will expend too much energy on cardio instead of putting it into a workout.

Furthermore, the extra calorie burn will push you further into a deficit and keep your body from being able to develop muscle.

Cardio is a very important pillar in fitness, but when trying to get fit and put on muscle, you don’t want to overdo it.

And like I said earlier, you get more bang for you buck from strength training because there is higher calorie burn, and the greater muscle mass will speed up your metabolism.

This takes care of diet and exercise, lastly…

Don’t forget flexibility!

There are 3 pillars to fitness:

-Strength

-Cardio

-Flexibility

We covered the first two.

The third doesn’t have to be stressful.

Simply stretch for 5-10 minutes before your workout to get yourself loosened up instead of going in cold. 

There is a vast list of resources online.

If you are working chest and shoulders one day, simply google or youtube “Stretches for chest and shoulders” and you can find what you need.

Stretching before a workout will reduce the chance of injury and keep your flexibility where you need to be for as long as you prioritize it.

You don’t want to be that guy that can’t scratch his back or touch his toes because you never stretch.

And if you are that guy, don’t think you can change it.

Stretch before your workouts and if you want bonus points, do a little yoga once a week as well.

Let’s wrap it up

So to summarize, lift heavy, eat plenty of protein, do cardio, but don’t overdo it, and stretch.

Nothing crazy.

You have the tools and information, now you just have to put in the work.

That is why a fit body is one of the best status symbols.

People know you can’t buy or cheat yourself into a healthy body.

I am no body builder or anything as you can tell from my pictures, but I can promise you I have been through the same struggle as you have been through and I know how to get to the other side.

I believe anyone can be fit and healthy and a lot of the world’s problems would be solved if everyone got in shape.

If you need a place to get in shape, I can’t recommend our gym enough.

If you still aren’t ready to commit, let us ease you into it.

We offer a free week trial for you to make sure this is the right gym for you.

If you have any other questions, feel free to reach me at ryan.williams@hcesportsplex.com.

Think and Grow Strong

Think and Grow Strong

When I was 18 I picked up a book called Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.

It taught me that your thoughts create your reality.

If you believe you have a good life, your brain will find all the reasons life is good.

Our thoughts are incredibly powerful and quite literally create your reality.

Not only does this apply to wealth and relationships, but in the gym as well.

I picked up Think and Grow Rich again this morning and it reminded me of a study I  came 

across a while back published by the Journal of Neurophysiology.

They had a hypothesis that just thinking about exercising could make you stronger.

They conducted a trial where they put the subjects in casts and told them to do nothing but think about exercising for 11 minutes.

They then had another group who did nothing for the same time period with no instruction.

They did this 5 times a week for 4 weeks.

At the end of the study, the group who simply imagined exercising had developed strength at twice the rate as the group who did nothing.

It is still hard to explain or prove why the mind is able to control muscle growth and strength like this but it is fascinating and worth considering when working out.

Your mind is your greatest asset.

Start feeding it thoughts of growth and health and abundance and you will get that.

Surround yourself with people who boost you up as well to accelerate the process.

I am sure you have heard of miracles of people who were once paralyzed from a stroke or a variety of other reasons who went on to become fully functioning again.

Most of these cases have to do with the person not giving up hope and using their mind to dig their way out of their unfortunate situation.

So start using your mind to get you in better shape.

If you are just getting started or if you find yourself plateauing in the gym, start imagining your muscles contracting while you lift.

Start imagining your dream body.

Make it real in your head and your physical reality will follow.

I know this sounds a little fru-fru to some people but your brain can’t discern what is real and what is not.

It simply follows the command of what you tell it.

So even if it feels like a lie when you tell yourself you are strong or healthy, use that favorable lie as a placebo until you fully believe it because your brain doesn’t know any better.

We focus on health and fitness here at the Sportsplex but the mental side of fitness is often neglected.

Strengthening your mind will prove to be just as beneficial as strengthening your body.

So start making your strongest muscle your brain and think good thoughts about yourself and your health. 

4 Tips to Cultivate Confidence

This blog is typically for fitness and nutrition but lack of confidence is an issue that I think is holding a lot of people back from have success with weight loss or putting on muscle.

I’ve never met anyone that didn’t want to be confident.

We all want to be believe in ourselves.

However, somewhere along the road, life beats most people down and they never get to discover their true selves because they never developed the confidence that is necessary.

Without confidence, this life will not be kind to you.

You will self sabotage your endeavors because you don’t think you are capable of your big dreams in life.

You will let people run over you and accept less than you are worth.

And, worst of all, you will live an unfulfilled life because insecurities will steal your ability to be happy and present.

I don’t pretend to have it all figured out, but I did used to be extremely unconfident and found out what worked for me and I hope to relay that to you today.

When I was 18 I started my self development journey by picking up Napoleon Hill’s classic “Think and Grow Rich”

This book completely opened my eyes to the responsibility I had in paying attention to what thoughts I allowed myself to think.

Hill says “Every man is what he is because of the dominating thoughts which he permits to occupy his mind.”

This leads me to my first tip…

TAKE OWNERSHIP OF YOUR THOUGHTS

When I first read this book, I was still a very unconfident person. 

I was in college still trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and

in a relationship that I was unhappy in and allowed to persist because I didn’t think enough of myself to go try to find better.

I read this book and started thinking about it’s application to my life and realized…

Your brain is a supercomputer and your thoughts are the code you are writing into it.

And so far, I had written a lot of low-quality code to say the least.

You can’t talk to yourself poorly and expect good results.

Your brain has no idea what is real and what is not. 

It just has the responsibility to try to prove you right.

It is called confirmation bias.

So if you tell it things like “My life is amazing. I am surrounded by love. I am healthy. I am wealthy.”…

Your brain will go looking for evidence of love and health and wealth in your life.

That is why I picked the classic Michael Jordan SNL affirmation skit for my artwork at the top of this blog.

It was a hilarious skit, but I promise you all the most confident people are hyping themselves up all the time, even if it is out of arrogance.

However, most people do not feed their brain empowering words.

A lot of that has to do with the people they are surrounded with.

That brings me to my next point

TAKE OWNERSHIP OF YOUR TRIBE

The people you spend time with have a tremendous impact on you.

There is an old saying that goes “Show me who your friends are and I’ll show you your future”

That is because they are feeding your brain as well.

Think of every thought, word you hear, song you listen to, or show you watch as a mental diet.

So if your friends like to constantly complain, they are holding you back.

Because just like your thoughts, the fears, insecurities, and doubt that they spew at you will filter its way in your brain and take its hold on you as well.

You must outgrow and move on from these people if you want to see yourself flourish.

It is a difficult part of life but absolutely necessary for growth.

Now that you have control of the things you are allowing into your brain, we’ve got to start showing ourselves some love.

I call this next point

STACK UP YOUR DUBS

All this means is count your wins.

For you to develop confidence, you must develop a track record of things you have accomplished or overcome.

So even if they are small wins, count them up and pat yourself on the back.

Don’t be afraid of challenges and obstacles in this life because they are opportunities to prove something to yourself.

Adversity is a gift.

Proving to yourself just how much you can handle gives you confidence for the next time you face similar struggles.

Whether it be beating cancer, going through a tough divorce, or finishing med school, give yourself some credit of just how great you are.

There is nothing wrong with being proud of yourself.

Lastly, you know I have to plug the gym…

GET IN SHAPE

I can speak very highly to this being one of the biggest reasons for me developing confidence in this life.

Taking control of you health and investing time and energy into being fit is one of the best ways you can spend your time, money, and energy.

Being in shape is empowering and demands respect because people know you can’t get lucky and be fit.

They know you can’t buy your health.

You have to do the work.

There is another hidden benefit of going to the gym because you are surrounded by other people working on themselves.

It motivates you.

It pushes you.

And at our gym, The Sportsplex, we take pride in building you up and attracting inspiring members to our gym.

You don’t get the glares you dread at other gyms here.

We truly have built an incredible gym and community and it just keeps getting better.

If you have aspirations of taking control of your health or just getting back after it after 2020 or whatever life events happened, I can assure you The Sportsplex is worth your time and money.

If you would like to try us out, we offer a week trial you can take us up on here.

Now go out there and take ownership and live you best life!

The Secret to Losing Weight (That Isn’t Much of a Secret)

The Secret to Losing Weight (That Isn’t Much of a Secret)

Weight Loss has been over-complicated since the dieting industry was born.

Vegan

WeightWatchers

Paleo

Low Fat

Keto

All of them claiming to be THE diet.

The holy grail.

The answer to all your problems.

And you know what?

All these diets work.

Honestly, you could eat nothing but Mcdonald’s and lose weight.

The secret to losing weight is….

Wait for it…..

Burn more calories than you take in.

That’s literally it.

It is that simple.

You just don’t hear this very often because there is no money to be made by telling people this simple truth.

I can’t sell you a pill or juice or whatever else by telling you all you have to do to lose weight is burn more calories than you take in.

This truth puts the power in your hands versus searching for your holy grail elsewhere.

Everything you eat has a caloric value attached to it.

You simply have to burn more calories than you are taking in for a sustained period of time to lose significant weight.

And you could do that eating 2,000 calories of Big Macs or 2,000 calories of fruits and vegetables.

Now, obviously you don’t want to Big Macs everyday just because I told you it’s possible.

You see, it’s not what works.

It’s what you can SUSTAIN.

What can you do for the rest of your life?

When coming up with a plan for what to eat, figure out foods you like and can realistically see yourself eating forever.

So yes, keto works.

But do you really never want to be able to have pasta? Or bread?

Because sure you can lose 20-30 lbs. in a year from doing keto or any of these diets.

But what happens when you come off of the diet?

If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself binge eating 17 chocolate chip cookies at 2 A.M. because you have been depriving myself for too long.

Then once you’ve had your slip up, you can continue to spiral out of control until, before you know it, you have put every one of those pounds back on plus some.

So my recommendation is to find moderation in life.

If I were starting over, I would go to our friends over at 5-Star Nutrition and get a BMI done.

This tells you a variety of information about your fat and muscle percentages but the one I am after is Basal Metabolic Rate.

You Basal Metabolic Rate tells you how many calories your body naturally burns at rest.

This is your caloric burn without doing any exercise, just what it takes to function and keep your heart beating and what not.

Most people are in the ballpark of 1500-2200 calories depending on age, gender, weight, and muscle mass.

Now before you even think about exercise, you could play around with this information and find a system that would promote weight loss. 

If you were a 220lb male and found out your Basal Metabolic Rate is 2200 calories, you could aim to get 1700 calories in per day and be in a 500 calorie deficit.

A pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories, so you could do this and lose a pound per week.

If you threw in exercise, it would be even more of a deficit (which I would recommend a higher caloric intake to account for this extra energy expenditure).

Apps like myfitnespal make tracking your calories very easy.

After a while of tracking you honestly figure out how to eat pretty intuitively without even having to track anymore.

And that is really all there is to losing weight.

It is just a bit a math and discipline.

So sure you can cut your carbs, go on a juice diet, or go vegan, but when you only focus on your caloric intake and sufficient protein intake to sustain a strength training program, you don’t have to cut out the foods you love.

If you are trying to lose weight, I hope this helps you wrap your mind around how simple weight loss can be.

Fasting: Your Body’s Natural Reset Button

By Ryan Williams

Fasting is an old concept that has found relevance in today’s age of trying to implement optimal habits and routines that improve your life.

Most fasting mentioned today pertains to intermittent fasting where you regularly have a set window you are allowed to eat and not eat.

I am mainly focusing on 24 hours or longer fasts.

It is a process that makes sense to at least try if you think about how we have evolved as humans.

Before we had stocked pantries and grocery stores and restaurants, we actually fasted without choice.

When we hunted and gathered for food, we never had a guarantee of something we could kill or fruits or vegetables we could harvest from day to day.

Sometimes we might have gone days without finding anything worth eating, if we didn’t starve to death.

Our bodies had to adapt to be able to withstand going days at a time without food leading to a lot of beneficial processes happening inside us when we go without food for a while.

One of those processes is called…

Autophagy

Let’s break the word down first.

“Auto” means self and “phage” means to eat.

So it essentially translates to eating yourself.

“Gee, Ryan. You’re really selling me on this fasting thing.”

Hold up. 

Let me explain what happens during autophagy.

Autophagy is the “reset button” I told you about.

It is where you go without food for a while and have to try to find something within your body to sustain yourself.

Registered dietitian, Scott Keatley RD, CDN, says that in times of starvation, autophagy keeps the body going by breaking down cellular material and reusing it for necessary processes. “Of course this takes energy and cannot continue forever, but it gives us more time to find nourishment,” he adds.

So it is kind of your body’s way of stalling until you can find sufficient nutrients.

Your body has to break down your weaker and damaged cells in order to sustain itself during this time. 

It will also have to start regenerating new, healthy cells to take their place. 

Various studies believe autophagy is essential for helping prevent cancer, dementia, and other diseases.

Your body naturally does this during sleep because you are technically fasting then as well.

But many studies say around the 20-24 is when autophagy really ramps up.

My Own Experiences with Fasting (The Good, Bad, and Ugly)

I have done several fasts ranging between 24-72 hours and want to give you my insight.

Despite studies saying autophagy kicks in around 24 hours I still do an occasional 24 hour fast because simply giving my digestive system a break does a lot for clearing up brain fog and giving me better overall cognition.

Most of my fasts are 48 hours and when I am feeling good at 48 hours, I occasionally push myself to do a 72 hours.

Fitness Volt provides a helpful Intermittent Fasting Calculator Here

Now to do these fasts, your body can’t have any caloric spike, so I stick to water, black coffee, and green tea.

If your body receives calories, it will just use that energy instead of eating away at your damaged cells and halt the autophagy process.

The coffee and tea don’t have any calories as long as you aren’t adding sugar or cream.

They help curb hunger and the caffeine helps keep your energy levels up.

I will also add a bit of salt and lemon juice to get a little sodium to help retain water and the lemon juice helps to add a little flavor and curb hunger as well.

Now as far as how I feel during a fast I said there is some bad and ugly so let’s address that.

I do experience some slight headaches and my energy levels are definitely lower.

You will probably have people asking “What’s wrong” multiple times a day just because you won’t look your normal self.

But you’re typically fine, just a little tired.

As far as hunger, it is not much of a struggle for me and can usually be curbed with drinking some water. 

The main negative is just low energy levels and perhaps a bit grouchy.

So warn your spouse and friends you are gonna fast ahead of time.

When you break a fast, ease yourself into it with something light like soup or bone broth. Then have a lighter meal about an hour later.

I know this won’t be an appealing thing to implement in your life to everyone, for those that are interested, I can’t recommend it enough.

I wouldn’t suggest doing any heavy lifting during a fast as your body isn’t getting anything to help it recover.

I mainly stick to some light cardio.

I also need to add that you probably won’t go “number two” for much or any of your fast.

Altogether, it is good to give your body a break from food aside from trying to trigger autophagy.

We often times eat out of boredom or routine and not because we are hungry.

Fasting teaches you to be a lot more mindful of your eating habits.

The clarity you feel when your brain doesn’t have to tell your digestive system to work is incredible.

Time slows down and you find yourself being much more aware and present.

I haven’t even started to cover many of the other benefits like decreased inflammation, better discipline when it comes to eating, better insulin sensitivity and many others.

With all this said, this article is only my experience and research into fasting.

I am not a licensed dietician and this is not medical advice.

I’m just a dude wanting to give my two cents about something that works for me.

I hope if this article entices you to try a fast you enjoy it as much as I do.

The Guide to Eating Out in Texarkana Without Ruining Your Diet

By Ryan Williams

As someone who worked in the food industry for 6 years before joining The Plex, I feel I have a bit of insider knowledge on how to navigate eating out while trying to watch calories.

I have done the meal prepping thing and know how it can lead to burnout after a few weeks.

I also know cooking every meal is difficult to fit into a busy schedule.

Sometimes, whether it is convenience or just wanting to eat something different or social obligations, eating out is a part of almost everyone’s diet.

A lot of times that can be associated with less healthy options since you don’t have full control over the ingredients in your food.

However, I am here to tell you eating out should not discourage you while trying to lose weight.

And it should not even derail your progress if you know how to do it properly.

First off, I want to say this is a random list and no sort of ranking system.

I simply picked 13 various, popular restaurants from fast food to fine dining in the Texarkana area.

Most larger chains offer nutrition info on their website and for the mom and pop places, you can usually guesstimate using an app like MyFitnessPal or other nutrition calculators.

So beyond this resource, it is not difficult to plan your meals while eating out ahead of time.

Let’s get into it.

On The Border

I spent 2 years here and know what a guilty pleasure it can be to go out and have a couple drinks and eat chips and queso like it’s your last meal.

However, if you are trying to keep your calories in check, I’d recommend the…

Mexican Grilled Chicken

It is a Mesquite Grilled Chicken Breast topped with pico and their fresh salsa.

Keep the cilantro-lime rice and sautéed house veggies that come with it and you have a delicious, high protein meal for only 620 calories.

I can’t tell you to get a margarita on this list, but if you do, get a Herradura Margarita. Thank me later.

Texas Roadhouse

I may catch some heat, considering this is a steakhouse and I am recommending chicken, but this guide is about keeping calories down and not what the best thing on the menu is.

Portobello Mushroom Chicken

I promise not all these selections are going to be a variety of chicken breasts with various toppings, but the Portobello Mushroom Chicken is hard to beat. 

It is a marinated, grilled chicken breast topped with a portobello mushroom sauce, jack cheese, and parmesan. It comes in at 430 calories and almost 60 grams of protein. Stick to steamed veggies, corn, or green beans for your sides and keep this entree under 600 calories.

Try not to eat all the rolls!

Ironwood Grill

Honestly, Ironwood has several different options to keep your calories low, but for me, I like getting some fresh, high-protein Ahi Tuna when I can so go for the…

Sesame Ahi Tuna

They give a delicious, hefty 8 oz serving of seared ahi tuna with a sesame sauce running you around 350 calories and 60 grams of protein. 

Choose the grilled veggies and sautéed mushrooms for your sides and you’ve got a savory, protein packed meal to keep you full for hours.

Zapata’s Mexican Restaurant

Mexican restaurants can be difficult to navigate healthily, but long-time Texarkana staple, Zapata’s has you covered with…

Mahi Mahi Grilled Fish

It consists of grilled Mahi Mahi with Mexican rice and a cup of tortilla soup. 

As good as enchiladas smothered in queso sounds, this dish will satisfy your Tex-Mex cravings without you needing a siesta right after it.

Julie’s Deli

Another staple in Texarkana, Julie’s has been known for top notch ingredients and friendly service for as long as many can remember. 

What started as a sandwich shop has blossomed into a full-on bakery, market, catering business scooping up Best of Texarkana awards year after year. 

This will be dated as it is a current special but I would go with…

Moroccan Chicken with Roasted Sweet Potatoes

This will run you somewhere around 600 calories, leaving some room for a piece of strawberry cake afterwards 😉

When Tex-Mex, fried chicken, and burgers are not doing it for your taste buds, come try this delightful African dish.

Naaman’s BBQ

Now to disclose a little bias, I worked at Naaman’s for 3 years while I was in college but I truly believe it is some of the best BBQ around. 

Darby, the owner, has put his heart and soul into every detail from the meat to the atmosphere. If you want to satisfy your BBQ desires, ask for a

1/3 lb. Meat Plate with Lean Brisket and Cole Slaw and Green Beans

Asking for lean brisket is going to seem a bit sacrilegious to some but a third pound of lean brisket is only going to run you around 250 calories. Add in a couple of lower calorie sides and you can enjoy some of the best BBQ in the nation for under 600 calories.

Benchmark American Brasserie

If you want to go out for a nice, fine dining option, look no further than Benchmark. 

Jason and Rebecca Williams are a culinary powerhouse and deliver an incredible French-American dining experience every time you go.

Their menu is always revolving with new, creative dishes but currently I’d go with the

Canard de Cassis

It is a seared duck breast topped with a sweet & savory red currant sauce, served with pommel dauphinoise and garlic-herb tai-color carrots.

Don’t let the big, French words scare you. 

This dish is sure to impress while staying under 700 calories.

Reggie’s

It may lead to a hard time from your buddies if you go out for lunch and order it, but when you are a man on a mission, you’ve gotta make sacrifices. Order a…

Bun-less Bacon Cheese Burger

Cutting out bread can save you a couple hundred calories leading you be able to enjoy a burger and fries for what I am figuring is roughly 700 calories.

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop

1 Grilled Fish Taco, 1 Grilled Shrimp Taco, and 1 Shredded Chicken Taco.

You don’t have to order rice and beans every time you have Mexican food. So if you are a hungry guy like me, order you these 3 tacos running between 220-240 calories a piece. 

If you are a lighter eater, opt for only 1 or 2 tacos. 

And if it is the weekend and you want to drink, swap a taco for a frozen margarita for roughly 50-100 calories more.

Chick-fil-A

We all know how busy Chick-Fil-A stays. Texarkana loves it some of God’s Chicken.

If you want to treat yourself to Chick-Fil-A and stay on track, try the…

Cobb Salad

Even with fried chicken and a dressing, you can keep it around 600-650 calories as long as you don’t drown it in ranch!

Chipotle

Similar to cutting out the bun when you have a burger, cutting out the tortilla can save you 200-300 calories when it comes to Tex-Mex. Chipotle even offers a nutrition calculator as you add on your ingredients on their website.

I get the…

Carnitas Burrito Bowl

which runs me around 700 calories.

A little caution: as much as I love guac, sour cream, and cheese, you may have to do some choosing as they can all rack up some calories, so I usually only add cheese.

Slim Chickens 

Another fast food option with beloved fried chicken is Slim’s.

If you want to get your fix, I recommend the…

Buffalo Chicken Wrap

This wrap will only run you right under 450 calories. 

So you can enjoy a delicious wrap and fries for about 700 calories.

Fuji Kim’s

When it comes to sushi, and eating Japanese food in general, there are some critical things to know to keep the calories low.

For one, I would suggest filling up a bit on some miso or mushroom soup or perhaps some high-protein edamame before the entree. 

There unfortunately isn’t a way to keep fried rice low calorie aside from portion control and if you crazies start trying to make it with cauliflower rice, I’m calling the cops.

When selecting sushi, stay away from tempura as good as fried shrimp is in a roll.

Try to opt for a Cucumber Roll or Spicy Crab Roll and you can still enjoy your sushi for under 700 calories.

Now that you have all this information, it is important to note that despite me giving advice on how to eat healthy, I stray away and binge eat and slip up all the time. 

So if you slip up, enjoy it, forgive yourself, and get back on track with the next meal.

Furthermore, we only have one life so I definitely encourage living a little and eating foods that make you happy, regardless of calories from time to time.

Look up menus ahead of time to have a plan before you go out to eat.

Don’t feel obligated to make a happy plate.

They make to-go boxes for a reason.

I hope this guide makes staying on track with your health and fitness goals easier!

The Privilege of Pain

Pain is never talked about as a desirable aspect of life.

As a matter of fact, most of us us tend to avoid it.

However, pain is one of the greatest privileges we have on this earth.

There is no growth without pain.

There is no self-discovery without pain.

You don’t find what you really want in this world without going through what you don’t want.

Those toxic boyfriends or girlfriends you had in the past were the pain you had to endure to fully appreciate the right one when they came into your life.

You can’t really develop real confidence without pain because overcoming pain allows you to believe in yourself.

In the gym, you can’t build your muscles, increase your cardio, or improve your flexibility without going through a bit of pain.

That is why I say pain is a privilege.

Because it is the stepping stone for all the good stuff in life.

So don’t run from that argument with your spouse. See how it can improve your communication and overall relationship.

Don’t be discouraged when times get tough in life, it is just making you stronger for the next challenge.

And, certainly, don’t get lost in comfort. Nothing beautiful or meaningful came from comfort. 

Almost all of us are guilty of binging Netflix,or eating unhealthy from time to time, or just being plain lazy.

But you have the ability to self reflect and find where you could be challenging yourself to become stronger.

Honestly, any facet of life, whether it be health, wealth, emotional, mental, physical or other, you must strain in order to grow.

And beyond all this, pain is unavoidable.

The thing is, you can choose whether you want it now or later.

Hard choiceseasy lifeEasy choiceshard life.”-Jerzy Gregorek

You can avoid the pain of getting your heart broken and never try to have a serious relationship, but you’re gonna suffer later because you’re lonely.

You can grab McDonald’s on the way home from work and skip the gym, but you will have to pay for it later. 

You can agree with others on everything to avoid conflict, but you will get run over and never respected.

So now that you have considered this, what kind of pain do you want?

What price are you willing to pay now to have it better down the road?

Do you want the easy life now or later?

It is a decision we must make everyday.

Choose wisely.

Meditation: How to Unlock your Best Self

By Ryan Williams

There is a ton of buzz around meditation and 

if you are anything like me when I got into it,

You are probably overwhelmed by all the information out there.

However, it does not have to intimidate you.

Naval Raviakant said it most simply,

“Meditation is the art of doing nothing”

I’m aware to a lot of people that may not sound very enticing,

but I will explain why this unlocks your highest self.

MEDITATION CULTIVATES SELF AWARENESS.

Whenever you are meditating, 

You are simply:

-Sitting in a comfortable position

-observing your thoughts, sensations of the body, etc.

-letting them pass without judgement

-that’s literally it

It sounds very simple and it is.

Similar to how eating healthy and exercising is simple and is all someone needs to do to get fit, but it still requires work.

You see, meditation is work.

And perhaps, the most important kind of work

Because it is self therapy. 

To quote @Naval again, “Instead of paying someone, you listen to yourself.”

We get so lost and anxious in life because we are not paying attention to ourselves.

We are not paying attention to this moment.

I know we are all guilty of being at an event or being  with someone we love

And not being fully present because we are too worried about our future or still stressing over our past or thinking about all the things we need to get done tomorrow.

Meditation teaches you to be present. 

It teaches you to be self-aware.

“Awareness is the power that is concealed within the present moment. That is why we call it Presence. The ultimate purpose of human existence, which is to say, YOUR PURPOSE, is to bring that superpower into the world.” -Eckhart Tolle

Awareness is an absolute must for happiness. 

If you are not present, you are not fully appreciating life. 

Presence allows you to be a better spouse because you notice all the good in your partner. 

It allows you to be a better friend because you can fully listen and give constructive advice from being aware of your own experiences in the world.

And most importantly, it allows you to be the best you because you are totally immersed in life and all that it has to offer.

It allows you to live every minute.

Meditation forces you to look at yourself and your thoughts.

This is a scary thing because all of us, at some point, have carried around something we did not want to share with anyone else, whether it be something we did, said or thought.

Furthermore, the second we wake up, we are struck with stimulation.

Social media notifications, emails, missed calls, text messages… 

They all start piling up on us throughout the day and we never take a second to just do nothing. 

We never give ourselves space to think and organize our ideas.

Meditation is like pulling out the Nintendo 64 cartridge, blowing on it, and putting it back in and everything works again.

Meditation is a different experience for everyone.

There are so many ways to do it, it’d be foolish to say it isn’t for you.

You can do plain, sit and observe meditations, guided meditations, mindfulness meditations…

Walking or long drives can be meditating for some.

The point of it is to just let it be whatever experience it is meant to be for you.

And let whatever benefits you get out of it be enough for you.

Do not concern yourself for not doing it for long enough or not practicing often enough.

It is always available to you.

If you are interested in trying a guided meditation, I would recommend starting with  Deepak Chopra’s 21 Day Abundance Challenge.

I hope this opened your eyes to meditation. I could go on with more benefits like how it reduces stress and anxiety or how it literally reshapes your brain,

But I wanted to keep this short, sweet, and digestible.

Have a lovely day!

Namaste.

Follow Your Fears

By Ryan Williams

Advice is incredibly abundant in this world.

Everyone has a list of values and beliefs they have developed based on their experiences and influences in life.

With those values and beliefs, we all construct our own subconscious manual for how we direct our own lives, as well as what to tell others when they confide in us.

Some of the most frequent advice you’ve probably heard (and maybe even given yourself) are things like…

“Follow your dreams”

“Follow your passion”

“Do what makes you happy” 

etc.

While this advice comes from a good place, it will keep you from experiencing the greatest joys in life if you don’t follow the advice from the title of this article.

FOLLOW YOUR FEARS

Now, what on earth do I mean by that?

Well for starters, let’s acknowledge the fact that fear is very healthy, and it has served us as humans for a long time. 

Before we had the security we have today, humans developed the fight or flight instincts to know when they might not be safe from predators. 

Nowadays, we don’t have the same sorts of concerns, but that fight or flight response

still influences our life. 

Remember, fear is instinctively there to protect us.

It is worth being fearful of drinking and getting behind the wheel, or taking caution when there is a threat for natural disasters.

But the fear I am talking about is when we fear challenges in life instead of fearing things for safety reasons.

Fearing starting something new because what if I fail?

Fearing becoming someone new because I will have to give up my old identity.

Fearing starting that side hustle that could potentially allow you to quit your job because what if I start it, tell my friends, and then it crashes and I have to explain myself?

Fearing leaving that toxic relationship you’ve stayed in too long because what will people say?

When you get those uncomfortable feelings, step back and try to see what your fear is telling you.

Often times, fear is the breadcrumbs that lead to a new path in life.

If you didn’t follow your fear and go talk to that girl, you wouldn’t have met your wife.

If you didn’t follow your fear and go to the gym, even though you were nervous about people looking at you funny, you never would have lost that weight and started feeling the best you’ve ever felt.

If you didn’t follow your fear, you would have never had that difficult conversation that made your relationship stronger than ever.

All I’m saying is fear is often times an indicator for exactly what you should do next.

Overcoming fear is one of the most empowering things in this life.

It is one of the greatest confidence builders because it creates resiliency and essentially adds to a list of accomplishments you can look back on and be proud of yourself for.

When we are unconfident, it is often times because we haven’t earned confidence yet.

You must go through things that are difficult or that scare you at first in order to grow into your greatest self.

Steven Pressfield writes in his book The War of Art, “… the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul.”

So write that book.

Ask that girl out.

Start that side hustle.

It just may be the greatest decision you ever made.

One trick I learned from Tim Ferriss’ blog a while back is the idea of imagining the worst case scenario whenever you are fearful.

Many times when we feel like we are overthinking, we are actually under-thinking it.

The worst case for asking the girl out is she says no and you feel a bit embarrassed for a brief moment and you may or may not see her in public again down the road. 

So that’s the risk in the equation.

The potential reward is she may just be your favorite person and the one you spend the rest of your life with.

When you put the risk to reward in to perspective, it almost makes the initial fear seem silly.

Maybe give it a try next time you are feeling some healthy fear pop up.

Think about all the things you’ve accomplished in life and all the things you pushed through that ended up paying off.

You couldn’t have achieved those things if you avoided fear and remained in your comfort zone.

You can do difficult things now and have an easy life later or you can do the easy things now and have a hard life later.

The decision is yours.

Now go follow your fears, kids.

Fitness is a lifestyle,
Not a hobby

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