Ask Your Trainer: What’s up with Sports Drinks?

We get a lot of questions about Gatorade and other sports drinks. Are they good, bad or indifferent?

Here’s a blog post from Emily about the why’s and why nots of sports drinks.

Sports drinks are beverages made of water, sugars, and small amounts of minerals like sodium and potassium and sometimes other ingredients like fruit juice. They are made with specific amounts of sodium and sugar to make it easy for your body to absorb. Sports drinks claim to help improve how well you perform a sport by replacing the nutrients that are lost in your muscles. The original theory, and recipes for these drinks were great.

Theory: Sports drinks give you the carbohydrates (sugars) and fluid you need to fuel your muscles and stay hydrated. You may lose large amounts of water and sodium as you sweat.  Sports drinks help make sure that the sodium that is lost in sweat during exercise is replaced. The right amount of sodium in your body helps you stay hydrated; helps with muscle recovery, soreness, preventing dehydration, and providing stamina and increased endurance during strenuous exercise.

The problem now is the over consumption, the amount of sugar, artificial flavors, and oils that go into the drinks.

Sugar- The drinks are now too high in sugar. The body cannot absorb them very well during exercise. High sugar drinks can often increase the risk of dehydration and cause bloating, nausea or stomach upset.

Over consumption-Our body really doesn’t need a recovery drink unless we are doing more than 60-90 minutes of vigorous, INTENSE exercise. They are also useful when exercising in hot weather. Right now we are consuming them before, during and after any gym session not just the intense ones, and at times even without exercising.

The good news- If you do want to consume a recovery drink to help replenish minerals, sodium and electrolytes, there are more options without the excess sugar and toxins.  Coconut water is great. If you cannot tolerate coconut water, then look for a recovery drink without excess sugar, dies, and oils.

Or make your own:

3 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup orange juice- pure not from concentrate juice, freshly squeezed is the best.

2 1/2 tablespoons honey

1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix, chill and serve

Makes four servings. Per 8 ounce serving: 50 calories, 14 grams carbohydrate, 160 milligrams sodium.

Options 2:

12oz of Water

3 tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice

Pinch of Finely Ground Sea Salt

Add in your flavoring (smashed fruit, etc…)

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Screw Self Control

I have no self control.

If there is ice cream in my house, I will eat it.

If there’s a jar of almond butter in the cabinet I will also eat that. Maybe on top of the ice cream.

For that reason we don’t keep that stuff in the house, unless we purposely go out and buy it for a treat.

(not a “cheat”, BTW, I am over using that term. You should always be able to treat yourself)

Self control is like this mysterious thing that everyone tries to have, work on or fight.


Emotion trumps logic all the time.

If you “want” to eat ice cream, that will beat the crap out of all the “why I shouldn’t” answers you could ever come up with.

So screw the self control. Don’t try to fight it because you will 99.9% of the time lose. And if you don’t lose, you will make yourself miserable in the process.

What to do instead?

Set yourself up so that you don’t have to beat self control. Align your environment and your lifestyle to support what you want instead of fighting against it.

This applies to food, fitness and just life in general.

If you don’t want to eat crappy food, don’t have it in the house. If your husband repeatedly buys it, you have to have the conversation with him about what you’re trying to accomplish and ask him to get on board.

If you are a repeated snooze-button hitter, put your alarm clock on the other side of the room so you will get up (trust me, it works).

I’ve been trying to read more each day. Stuff that motivates me and puts me in a good head space. I get overwhelmed if I try to make myself read for 30 minutes each night. Not happening.

So I commit to reading 2 pages every day. That turns into at least 5 usually but at least I did something that aligns with my goals and changes my habits slightly.

If I was relying on self control and will power to “push through” and read 30 minutes a day, some days I would and then some days I wouldn’t do any. That doesn’t change my habit. Small increments each day is what makes progress.

So figure out the things that are getting in your way. Are you trying to push through them and beat them through sheer will power?

If so, instead make a list of all the things where you try that tactic and then figure out how you can change your environment or your lifestyle around that thing.

Now I know your next statement is going to be “but some things I can’t change.”

That’s true. But you can change how you react to them. Your attitude is always a choice. That’s another email for another day but there are plenty of things RIGHT NOW that you can adopt a new way of thinking around.

Let me know how this goes for you, I’d love to hear what you’re working on.

Have a great week,


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Durbrow Performance Training June Client of the Month: Shonda Ettienne

Congratulations to our June 2014 Client of the Month, Shonda Ettienne!

Shonda has been training at Durbrow Performance for just over 1 year and in that time she’s made one of the best transformations we’ve ever had. She has lost 87 pounds since starting with the training family last July.

Shonda is always one to push herself and she has an amazing way of being laser focused during an exercise and then being able to joke and have fun during the breaks, then turn the focus right back on.

It’s been amazing watching Shonda transform her body and each week she is able to challenge herself past just moving more weight. Now with more confidence she’s building her athleticism and pushing herself to try different exercises.

Shonda Push Ups 300x225 Durbrow Performance Training June Client of the Month: Shonda Ettienne

I was joking with her a few weeks ago that that’s the way it has to go- she loses more weight and her weights in the gym go up.

Shonda has hit a recent PR of a #235 Deadlift, she flips the #420 tire with ease and just yesterday started swinging the 40kg kettlebell.

In addition to her own success, we have heard from several clients about how much her transformation and journey has inspired them to become better.

Congrats again Shonda, you deserve it more than you know!

Shonda COM1 e1406230257122 Durbrow Performance Training June Client of the Month: Shonda Ettienne

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What’s the Deal with Bulletproof Coffee?

We got this question from a few different clients over the last month or so.

Bulletproof Coffee.

It’s all the rage in the Paleo and Primal communities, boasting huge energy boosts without the crashes, incredible mental clarity for hours on end and even improve fat loss results.

Sounds amazing, right?

This idea was spawned from Dave Asprey, also known as the Bulletproof Exec.

If you haven’t heard of Bulletproof Coffee or you have heard about it but you aren’t sure what it entails, here are the basics.

  • Organic, toxin free coffee
  • Kerrygold Grass Fed Butter
  • MCT Oil

You are brewing the coffee as usual and then adding the grass fed butter (Asprey recommends at least 2 tablespoons) and then also adding the MCT Oil (1-2 tablespoons).

The premise of this recipe is that the healthy fats from the butter will give you a ketonic energy effect, meaning your body will burn fats for energy and avoid any insulin spikes. The fats also keep you more full throughout the morning.

MCT (medium chain triglyceride), in this case found in an oil, has been shown to promote fat oxidation and weight loss because they passively diffuse from the GI tract and do not require any energy for storage or absorption.

The premise of Bulletproof Coffee is that you would drink a cup of this in the morning as your breakfast. The high fat intake will keep you full, help push your body to use fats as energy.

It does taste pretty good. When I tried this for about a month, I didn’t notice a huge change in my energy or focus. It didn’t hurt me, but it didn’t change my life either.

The other issue that comes up is when people do Bulletproof Coffee AND eat throughout the early part of the day. That just leads to an excess of calories and usually way too much fat.

If you like to drink your calories, then give it a try. I much prefer eating and focusing on quality foods instead of a hyped up coffee.

The one positive aspect I will take from this is that if you want to sweeten your coffee with something more natural and healthy, use a tablespoon of coconut oil. It has a similar premise to the MCT oil (which is flavorless) and tastes great.

Otherwise, skip the 400-500 calorie coffee and eat some real food.

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Don’t Focus on the Whispers

I like to make lists. On my calendar, on my phone, on my desk with a few sticky notes.

I realized after a while that my to-do lists were starting to have to-do lists.

Time to scale back. I still make lists but it’s all about the important stuff. I figure out what my most important tasks are and do those first. I believe this is essential when you’re training and working to lose fat or get in shape.

One saying that a mentor of mine uses a lot is “don’t focus on the whispers. Focus on the shouts.”

Too many people get wrapped up in the minutia. He was talking about
business but again, this translates over to health and fitness.

Does it really matter if you eat spinach OR kale? They are both great. Pick one. Or eat both. Just do it.

Which kind of protein powder is best?

Most of the time, as long as it’s not containing a lot of garbage and chemicals, it’s good. Just pick one.

If you spend your time focusing on the tiny pieces of the puzzle, you won’t make any progress.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t care but focus on the big picture of the questions I just asked. The big picture is, you are eating your green leafy veggies and a high quality protein to supplement your hard work in the gym.

Figure out what your end goal is. Come up with your WHY. Then work backwards and every time you come up with a “whispering” question, ask yourself if that aligns with your big picture goal or if you can focus your energy and efforts elsewhere.

Here’s the thing too, focusing on the minutia sometimes makes you feel like you’re getting somewhere. Focusing on the big stuff is hard, but that’s where the progress is. Keep working at it.

Have a great week,


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Cut the Sugars…Now What?

A few weeks ago Emily covered why you need to cut out artificial sweeteners. Take a minute to read this one.

Why you should cut artificial sweeteners.

Now, check out the follow-up to a lot of questions we received about what you should use instead. Here are Emily’s answers…

Best Options:

Organic Maple Syrup- (shocking I know that a girl from Vermont would recommend maple syrup) It is very sweet, comes from nature, has been around for years so we know it is safe, and our body knows how to process it. MPS is sweet enough that you can use very little and get a lot of sweetness and flavor.

Organic Honey- Honey is made by bees from the nectar of flowers. Very sweet, comes from nature, has been around for years so we know it is safe, and our body knows how to process it.

Molasses- Very sweet, comes from nature, has been around for years so we know it is safe, and our body knows how to process it. Also offers the body nutrients like potassium, calcium, and iron.

Organic Green Leaf Stevia -Stevia is a sweetener made by purifying extracts from an herb that grows in South America. Stevia is available as a dietary supplement but not a food additive in the United States because of a lack of data regarding its safety.

This means you can buy packets to use in your coffee or for baking, but you won’t find it already added to packaged foods. You can now also by the herb and process it yourself. Stevia has been widely used in Japan for the past several decades without any apparent adverse effects.

It actually has no calories and tastes up to 400 times sweeter than sugar, but it can produce a slightly bitter aftertaste. It won’t raise blood sugar, and it may even help stabilize blood sugar levels. There is some debate out there if it causes sweet cravings when you consume large quantities.

Okay Options:

Brown Sugar – white sugar with molasses, so it does offer a little nutritional content.

Truvia – more processed version of stevia, made by the Cargill and Coca-Cola company. Although they start with raw stevia herb, it is not know what process they use to develop the granules. They also list “natural flavor” in their process without identifying the source.

Why are theses your best options? They pack a sweet punch so you can use very little. Some of them offer nutrients, and excellent flavor. However, let us cover one more time that you should avoid excess sugar/sweetness.

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Donuts and Seat Belts

Do you wear your seat belt every day?

Most people do, I would bet.

Do you eat donuts every day?

Some people do.

If you didn’t wear your seat belt for one day, it probably wouldn’t
harm you. I’m not advocating this, I’m just saying…

If you ate a donut one day, it wouldn’t cause you to gain weight.

When it comes to changing your habits (whether it’s fitness or
otherwise), it’s kind of like seat belts and donuts.

When you do this one destructive behavior every day (not wearing
your seat belt or eating a donut for breakfast) for a period of
time, that’s what creates the bad habits or the weight gain. This
can relate to other areas of life too, not just fitness.

No one ever ate a donut and woke up 20 pounds heavier. If you ate
that donut every day for several years, you probably would be 20
pounds heavier.

Think about the thing in your life that you’re trying to change.
Are you doing the right daily habits and reps to make that change,
like wearing your seat belt every day?

Or are you doing the daily habits and reps that will prolong that
negative behavior or result, like eating a donut every day for

Enjoy your week and try to get in those daily reps that make a
positive change in your life.


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Killer Home Workout to Build a Strong Upper Body

Killer Home Workout to Build Up a Strong Chest

By Nick Lynch

It seems today that bodyweight movements just don’t get the love they deserve. However, many elite athletes  will have entire workout regimens based off of 4 basic bodyweight movements: Push-up, Pull-up, Dip, and Squat. All four of those exercises can be modified into several different versions (adjusting the angle, working across a different plane of direction, adding weight onto body, etc.) activating multiple muscles throughout each movement. 

The push-up is a great way to target the chest, along with dips. These exercises can be performed right in the comfort of your home! All you need is a little creativity to enhance each movement and cater it to the difficulty level you need for results.

First things first- If you can pump out 30 push-ups no problem, then you obviously need more resistance. A great at home solution to this is to take a backpack and fill it with weight (water bottles work fantastic).  The tighter the backpack is to the body, the more balanced it will be. 

As for the dips, find a surface in the house that you can perform a dip on safely, without touching the floor (Stools/chairs work great).  The last piece of “equipment” we will need to perform this routine is either 2 dish towels if you are on a hard surface or 2 paper plates if you are on a carpet. That’s it! (side note: you can also use Valslides or Furniture Movers if you have them)


  • Incline Push-up (4 sets, 8-15 reps) - Using one of the dip chairs, or another elevated surface in the house, place your feet (toes for higher difficulty) onto the surface and your hands on the floor. Lower yourself down until your chest is about .5-1 inch from the floor, hold 1-2 seconds, and explode back up, SQUEEZING the chest throughout and holding that squeeze at the top of the movement. Continue for 8-15 reps.  Make sure the weight in the pack has you reaching close to failure within the rep range.  Hands should be shoulder-width or slightly outside, and fingers should be pointed slightly out, about 30-45 degrees. 
  • Close Grip Push-up (2 sets, 10-15 reps) - Hands within shoulder-width, this is a triceps dominant push-up, but it will also target the inner chest. Make sure you hold at the bottom and squeeze throughout the movement, holding the squeeze for 1-2 seconds at the peak.
  • Wide-Grip Push-up (2 Sets, 10-15 reps) – Hands wider than shoulder width and fingers pointed out at 90 degrees. Control both the positive and negative movement of this exercise with a 3 count down, 1 count hold, and 3 count up.  
  • Dips(3 sets, 8-12 reps)- 2 Chairs on each side of you for each hand, place bodyweight onto the hands and lower yourself between the chairs until elbow is at 90 degrees. Rise back up and squeeze. The farther you lean forward, the more it will hit the chest. 
  • Chest Flyes (3 sets 6-10 reps) - assume the top of a push-up position (arms extended) with the paper plates or towels under the hands. Slide your hands away from the midline of your body in a controlled motion, lowering your body towards the floor. Squeezing the arms and chest, and keeping the core tight, drive your hands back towards the midline until you reach the starting position. 
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The Illusion of Fear is Holding You Back

I recently started reading a new book called The Obstacle is the Way.

It’s gotten me to think a lot more about how I look at my life, at the things standing in the way of what I want to achieve or help others achieve.

Today’s post is short, but something I want you to start thinking about.

We all have choices. So many people are literally on the verge of greatness or they are on the cusp of making a decision that can change the trajectory of their lives (in a great way).

What happens in that weird space after the excitement?


The illusion of fear allows us to stop dead in our tracks and we convince ourselves that we can’t do it, can’t afford it, can’t handle it.

Taking action is a choice. Not taking action is also a choice.

If you’re stuck, push yourself through the resistance and take control. It’s not going to be perfect or pretty, but you have to take some action.

If you’re unhappy, you can choose to rid yourself of the negative stuff or people in your life.

The choices you have or haven’t made up to this point determine what’s going on in your life.

Consistently taking action will get you there. I remember a quote from a mentor of mine, he said “action alleviates anxiety.”

It’s true. Even if you don’t take a huge step, take a little one. Then take another one the next day.

Just remember that you ALWAYS have a choice and you can choose to move forward, backward or stay still.

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Ask a Trainer: If I’m Not Sore, Does that Mean it Wasn’t a Good Training Session?

I’m so sore.

That workout killed me.

I couldn’t even sit down to pee.

Walking down the stairs was a challenge yesterday.

I’ve heard these and so many other variations of “I’m so sore” in all my years as a trainer and coach.

In this edition of “Ask a Trainer” I’m going to dive into why being sore doesn’t always equate to a good training session.

I got this question from a new client specifically two weeks ago, but I’ve gotten it over the years many times. “I wasn’t really sore, does that mean I should have worked harder?”

First, what does being sore really mean?

When you train with resistance- whether it’s weights, kettlebells, or even your own body weight, you produce damage in the muscles during that session. There are small micro-tears in the tissue that after your training session need to be repaired and over time they grow back to become stronger.

When you train, you are also creating some inflammation in the muscle tissue and throughout the body.

When you are new to a training program or just to certain exercises, the reaction will be a bit more aggressive than if you have been training for a while.

If you remember back to your first week of training, you were likely pretty sore. If you also think back to a time when you did a new exercise that your body wasn’t used to- even if you consistently trained 2-3 days per week, you will remember feeling a new soreness sensation.

Think about the Valslide Leg Curls, Tricep Crushers on the Rings and Romanian Deadlifts.

Some of you may have heard me say that these are “sneaky” exercises and you often feel the effects more the next day.

Why is that?

These exercises have what’s called an eccentric component. Eccentric essentially means you are going against the gravity of the movement. So when you do the Valslide Leg Curl and you are working to straighten your legs- that’s eccentric. When you contract the muscle during the movement- that’s concentric, like when you curl your legs in or when you pull the weight up during a Bicep Curl.

The eccentric portion of a movement can produce the highest amount of damage to the muscle tissue, often resulting in some more aggressive soreness.

So why do you get sore sometimes and not others?

In reality, the goal of your overall programming should to be the LEAST sore that you possibly can.

That means that you’re training your body with exactly the right stimulus but more importantly, you are doing all of the right stuff in the other 23 hours of the day.

The better your hydration, nutrition and sleep are, the faster you will recover.

If you eat really well with a nice balance of protein, carbs and fats, you drink 60-100 ounces of water each day and you sleep 8 hours, your soreness factor will be really low.

If you are constantly sore and you have been training for a while, I would definitely consider looking at your outside the gym factors.

If you are new and you are sore for the first week, that’s normal. You just have to pay extra attention to your other factors (hydration, nutrition, sleep).

One other supplemental note: taking 500 mg of Magnesium each night has helped me tremendously. It has some muscle relaxing properties and also can help with deeper sleep so there’s a win-win when it comes to recovery.

So, do NOT make your goal to be as sore as possible. Instead focus on 100% intensity during your sessions and then doing all the right stuff after the fact to ensure proper recovery.


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