Fit to be Functional?

11017155_1587606234809892_5667947761953979578_n Fit to be Functional?

Everyone seems to be talking about “functional fitness.” The term has been used in some of the articles on this blog. It sounds like a good thing. It seems simple enough. Still, people want to know what the buzz is all about.

Let us begin with a couple of definitions. According to Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary, function, in this instance, is defined as “the action for which a person or thing is specially fitted or used or for which a thing exists.” Also known as, purpose. Also, in accordance with the aforementioned dictionary, the word fitness is defined as the state of being sound physically and mentally. Combine these definitions and you have “functional fitness”.

So, that’s enough with the definitions already. How about some practical examples? Let’s take a look at a group most people would consider in excellent fitness, Olympians. Are they functionally fit? Well, not really. When people specialize in a specific athletic field they train night and day. However, the training they do is specific to their sport. They have to isolate the muscles that allow them to excel in their sport. For example, a runner may have superior leg strength, stamina, and even core strength. But, they may not be able to lift a 50 lb box over their head.

Functional fitness is about real life. In 20, 30, or 40 years will you be able to get up out of chair with out assistance, tie your own shoes, carry your own groceries, or squat down to pick up your grandkids? If you are functionally fit the answer is yes. Functional fitness is designed to help you become stronger and more resilient to the ware that living life brings. You will be in a state of mental and physical soundness that will prolong your ability to continue this specially fitted action that you exist for called life.

Get fit to be functional for life!

Coach Jim teaches Boot Camp and Kickboxing in Killeen, Texas. Call 254-247-4999 for a free class and consultation. Click us on the web at

Stealth Weight Loss: Making the Mindless Margin Work for You

life lessonsChances are you’ve been pulling out some of your spring and summer clothing—those favorite pieces from last year.  But if you are like many people, they don’t feel quite as comfortable as they did at the end of summer.  The zipper is a little harder to zip, and the fit is a bit too snug.

What happened?

The mindless margin happened.

The mindless margin

In his book, Mindless Eating:  Why We Eat More Than We Think, Dr. Brian Wansink defines the mindless margin as that margin or zone in which we can slightly overeat or slightly under eat without even realizing it.

It is very easy to slightly overeat, isn’t it?  How many times have you passed through the kitchen and spied a half cookie lying on the baking pan?  It’s only a half cookie, so you grab it and eat it as you keep walking.

Or what about refilling your soda cup on your way out of the restaurant after lunch?  Just a little for the road…

Have you ever cleaned your plate simply because there was food left on it?  You weren’t really hungry, but it was there, so you ate it.

This is the mindless margin. In each of these instances, you were not consuming the extra calories because you needed them: you weren’t even hungry!  And if you had resisted them, you would never have missed them.  In each case you ‘slightly overate,’ but the price you pay for this is high.

Dr. Wansink points out that eating just 10 extra calories per day results in a one pound weight gain over a year’s time.  10 calories!  Here is a sample list of foods that you might mindlessly eat that are 10 calories each:

  • 2 Skittles
  • 4 Nestlé Toll House semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 gummy bear
  • 2 1/2 Jelly Belly jelly beans
  • 1 peanut M&M
  • 3 plain M&M’s
  • 1 shoestring french fry
  • 3 green or red grapes
  • 3 cherry tomatoes

Imagine how much weight you would gain if you ate 100 or 200 extra calories each day.  You would gain several pounds each year.  And this is what is happening to most Americans:  the slow creep.

Make the mindless margin work hard for you

The good news is that the mindless margin works in reverse.  While mindlessly overeating adds up to weight gain, mindlessly under eating leads to weight loss.

There is a zone in which you do not notice if you eat more calories or fewer calories. 

Consider this:  if you eat 1,000 calories each day, you will feel weak, lightheaded and cranky.  You would notice this!  And if you eat 3,000 calories each day, you would notice this too—you would feel tired, slower and sleepy.1

However, your body will never notice if you eat 1,900 calories instead of 2,000 calories, nor will it notice if you eat 2,100 calories instead of 2,000 calories.  That is why it is called the mindless margin—it is completely undetectable.  You don’t feel better if you eat it, and you don’t feel deprived if you don’t.

You can trim 100-200 calories from your diet and never miss them! And you can lose weight in the process.

Here are a few ideas to help you start thinking about initiating this stealth fitness strategy in your diet.

You will come up with other ways that are specific to your particular lifestyle.  The objective is to trim a few calories every place you can without really noticing it.

  • Fill your glass only two-thirds full of calorie-laden beverage, rather than all the way full.
  • Toss out one-third of your french fries on the way to the restaurant table.
  • Dish out twenty percent less food onto your plate.
  • Reduce your heaping spoon of sugar to a level one for your coffee.
  • Ask the waiter to bring you one roll instead of a whole basket.
  • Never eat a whole dessert by yourself: split it with someone.
  • Remove most junk food from your office and replace it with your favorite raw fruits, veggies and nuts.
  • Replace one glass of calorie-rich beverage each day with water.
  • Never eat directly out of the bag or box. Decide how much you want to eat, then put twenty percent of that back in and put the bag or box away.  Do not go back for seconds.

Keep in mind that the key to taking advantage of the mindless margin is to keep it under the radar. If you feel deprived, it is no longer mindless.  It’s a great way to lose a few pounds and not even know it.  As Dr. Wansink puts it, “The best diet is the one you don’t know you are on!”


Coach Jim Mahan teaches Fitness Boot Camp and provides nutritional support in Killeen, Texas. Call for an appointment at 254-247-4999 or find him on the web at


1 Brian Wansink.  Mindless Eating:  Why We Eat More Than We Think.  2010.  Bantam Books.

Monday Challenge: Find Your “Instead”

mondayMonday Challenge: Find your “Instead”
This week’s Challenge of the Week is a little bit different.  In fact, it’s going to be different for EVERY person who takes on this challenge.

The reason for that is that EACH OF US HAVE DIFFERENT WEAKNESSES. AND…it’s OK to have weaknesses (after all, we are only human). We just have to recognize what they are and be able to handle them when we feel vulnerable. This week, your challenge is to find your INSTEAD.
“INSTEAD” being the key word.  Instead of trying to STOP a bad habit, you should replace it with a HEALTHIER option instead of trying to get rid of it all together.

Trying to stop something will only make you focus on what you can’t have.
BUT, by trading it in for a better option, you will feel much better about the transition. So….the challenge of the week THIS WEEK, is to

#1.  Identify ONE of your “not-so-great” habits or weaknesses in your diet that you want to change.
#2.  List out (actually WRITE them down) 2 ways you are going to plan for success.
#3.  Throw away, give away, or donate your “Weakness” item.
#4.  Go to the store and buy your “INSTEAD” item!

Remember…you HAVE to make a change in your BEHAVIOR if you want to see a change in your BODY.

Try this and let me know how it goes this week! Let me know what YOUR weakness is & what your “INSTEAD” is in a comment below!!

What Motivates You?


Mike Fohner, cross country running coach, tells this story about one of his students:

“Last year, one of my young cross-country runners was fully content walking up the hills and avoiding physical exertion to the maximum extent possible. I tried all sorts of tactics and motivation techniques…to wits end. Even my “walkers club” (post practice sprints for those that walk during practice) had no effect. One meet, this runner unexpectedly knocked 3 minutes off her best time to which I gave a look of amazement to her parents. They smiled and said, “Well…she didn’t walk…so I guess we owe her ten bucks!!” So it appears that money is an effective motivator for all ages!”

The statistics

Brace yourself. According to Rod K. Dishman, Ph.D., director of the Behavioral Fitness Laboratory at the University of Georgia, nearly 50 percent of people who begin an exercise program drop out within the first 6 months. The question is, “Why?” What is it about sticking with a fitness routine that causes so many people abandon it?

The answer? Motivation. They don’t want health and fitness badly enough. It is a simple fact of human psychology that if we want something badly enough, we’ll do everything we can to get it.

Your challenge is to find out what motivates you to get serious about fitness and stick with it.

Unlocking your motivation

Mike Fohner’s student found that money was the motivation she needed to push her out of her comfort zone and into a commitment that she previously hadn’t been interested in.

Bryan Reece found a different motivation. Told by his doctors that he was minutes away from a heart attack, Bryan decided to fight back. Even though he had not been in a gym in 30 years, he turned his life around and eventually became a finisher in the Arizona Ironman competition. You can read his story in the book, You Are an Ironman: How Six Weekend Warriors Chased Their Dream of Finishing the World’s Toughest Triathlon by Jacques Steinberg.

You do not have to be part of that 50 percent who quit. You can stay committed and finish strong. It is all about finding what motivates you personally.

Here are some possible motivators for you.

1. Do it for your health. Consistent exercise and healthy eating are the two very best things you can do for your health. You will develop a strong, healthy heart, reduce your chances of many cancers, prevent diabetes, keep a sharp mind and resist dementia and avoid many of the common ailments that come with aging. It is possible to age without decay, and the key to this is exercise and eating well.

2. Do it to look better. Appearance isn’t everything, but most of us care how we look. A strong and healthy person just looks good. And it isn’t all physical. Your demeanor will change as you develop the confidence that comes from the discipline of fitness. You will appear more energetic and confident because you will be more energetic and confident!

3. Do it to relieve stress. Really! It isn’t a cliché. Exercising really does cause physical changes in your brain and nervous system that results in feelings of calmness and well-being. In fact, you may get so hooked on the mental benefits of exercise that you will crave it!

4. Do it to be strong. If you have never done focused weight training, then you literally have no idea of the total transformation that you will feel after just a few weeks. There is nothing like bending over to pick something up that normally results in discomfort, strain and even pain, only to find out that it is a piece of cake! And by getting strong now, you reduce your risk of age-related falls and fractures because you have the core strength and balance to keep yourself stable.

It is worth taking the time to discover the powerful motivators in your life. Don’t worry about ‘bribing’ yourself: do what it takes to get yourself moving. Find out what makes sweating worth it. Find out what you want more than that brownie. Your health is at stake; in fact, your very life is at stake. It’s time to transform yourself.

Ready to transform yourself? Try a free week of our classes on us. Give me a call 254-247-4999.


8 Surefire Steps to Staying Motivated

Step 1: Visualize what you want

Picture yourself attaining the goal you want to achieve. Some of us see still pictures, and others see moving pictures (like a movie). Some of us see our pictures or movies in color, and others see it in black and white. However it is that you see your picture, get in tuned to the details of the picture. Align your fitness or nutritional goal with these visual aids.

Step 2: Use all of your senses when visualizing

As you visualize, start to pay attention to the sounds associated with your picture. Also, notice how you feel in that picture. This feeling should be both emotional and physical. How does your body feel fitting back into those skinny jeans? How does that make you feel, emotionally? The more details you have in your picture, the more you are sending a message to your brain that this is really happening. Before you know it, it really happens.

Step 3: Write down your goals

Writing down your goals is a great way to stay focused on what you want. You can place your goals where you see them daily. Some people also just like to write their goals then put them away. That’s fun, because when you go back weeks, month, or even years later and read your goals you are amazed at what you have accomplished.

Step 4: Believe in your goals

Choose goals that you truly believe in your heart that you will attain. Understand, as humans, we tend to send ourselves “doubting messages” when we think of goals we want. Acknowledge what that is, just doubt, and mentally set it aside. Think about what you want. Believe in yourself and in your goal. Strive for it one step at a time.

Step 5: Challenge yourself

Choose goals that you know in your heart you can attain. With that, make sure you are challenging yourself. It’s that stretching moment in our lives that keep us motivated. It tough to be challenged, yet it feels great! Just to know you’re always stretching to go a little further is motivating in itself. It keeps you from getting bored and stagnant.

Step 6: Get support from friends and family

Tell those that love and care for you about your goals. Simply talking about it will motivate you (as well as inspire them). They can hold you accountable, encourage you, and celebrate with you.

Step 7: Strive for continued progress

As you accomplish each goal, replace it with a new goal that will push you to another level. This goes back to keeping yourself challenged, and avoiding boredom. When we find ourselves at a stagnant place in our lives, we tend to start to go backwards. Always give yourself something for which to strive.

Step 8: Reward yourself for accomplishments

To stay motivated, give yourself a reward for what you have accomplished. This moment of celebration is so important. It’s called positive reinforcement, and it feels so good that you want to set another goal and celebrate it again. Rewards can be anywhere from a pat on the back to a week-long vacation.


You’ve been doing it for a while now, probably longer than you realize.


It’s too cold, it’s too hot, I need to get in shape before i join the gym…


Again and again, you come up with a reason why you’re going to start TOMORROW.


Before you know it, you wake up one morning and you’re 5 lbs, 10 lbs, or 15 lbs heavier than you were a few months ago!


Enough is enough. Now is the time to stop making excuses, to stop putting your fitness on hold, and to start working out.


Don’t Let Age Get the Upper Hand

With every year that passes, your body conspires to make getting into shape harder. Your metabolism slows down as you age, adding weight that you’ll have a harder time shedding. Your growth hormone production slows down, making it even more of a challenge! What might have been a snap at 20 will take more time and effort at 45.


Here’s the good news: You CAN absolutely get fit at ANY age! BUT….the longer you put it off, the harder it will be to make those changes.


Your body is more primed to respond to exercise right NOW, than it will be even 6 months from now. And, if you happen to be that 45 year old who starts working out today, know that soon enough you’ll be fitter than a 20 year old who’s sitting around still making excuses!


The Chicken or the Egg?

It could be that you’re overweight and think you need to lose a few pounds before you start working out.  So, you’ve decided that you’re going to lose weight by dieting BEFORE you start an exercise program. You’ve even got a list of groceries to restock your fridge and pantry with and to start you on your way.


It’s true that watching what you eat is a huge part of a fitter, trimmer life. But studies show that making the switch to healthier eating is easier when you’re already working out regularly.


Exercise will cause you to crave healthier foods, encouraging a fit diet to come more naturally, and the pounds to melt off quicker!


Laziness Makes You Even More Tired

Maybe you’re waiting around until you feel less exhausted and fatigued by work, family, and everything else that goes on.  Chances are, you will ALWAYS have a ton of things going to that will zap up your energy!


More good news:  Exercise will INCREASE your energy throughout the day, so you will have more clarity and be able to get more done during your day


You’ve just got to get the ball rolling!


It’s a Mental Game

Fitness is about being proactive mentally AND physically – putting it off will actually psyche you out!  Adding regular exercise isn’t necessarily easy. But the longer you wait to begin working our regularly, the more insurmountable a challenge it will seem.

Put the kibosh on negativity before it starts to impact your drive to workout and live healthier!  The little engine that could do did do because he was already doing.


Decide right now to stop your excuses and take the first step. Together we will come up with the perfect personalized fitness plan for you. It will be unique to your lifestyle and get you to your goals quickly.

Call or email TODAY and say goodbye to waiting until tomorrow!

About the Author:


Warrior Fitness, Self Defense and Life Skills Expert, Jim Mahan has helped thousands of individuals just like you learn simple and effective ways to prepare themselves for the unknown.

Call now to get a Free week of training in any class of your choice!



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5 Foods You Must Avoid

Another Great Article From Prograde Nutrition!

By Kevin DiDonato MS, CSCS, CES

Buying local, fresh foods from Farmers’ markets, organic farms, or from your local grocer can go a long way for your budget and your health.  However, not everyone can benefit or wants to shop healthy.  Here are the top five foods to avoid or minimize in your diet for a longer, healthier life and a leaner waistline, followed by the top five foods that will give you amazing health benefits.

Food #1 Low-fat Foods

Food labeling can be very deceptive when it comes to food geared for weight loss.  Low-fat foods are one of the products to be careful about.  Just because the food says “low fat,” does not mean the food is low calorie.  Be sure to check the label and see how many calories are typically in the product.  Most people associate low-fat foods with lower calories, so they tend to eat more.  Do not be fooled by this deceptive labeling technique.

Food #2 Sugar-Free Foods

Sugar-free foods are geared to people with diabetes or at risk for developing diabetes.  Sugar-free foods have low calories and no sugar.

However, look at the label under sugars, and you will see something interesting.  Sugar-free foods tend to have sugar alcohols, which is an ingredient designed to give it sweetness.  Most of the time, sugar alcohol is made from sugar products, which can lead to increased calories.  Sugar alcohols carry between 1.5 and 4 calories per gram.  Not only do you get extra calories, but you also can get cramping, bloating, and other gastrointestinal problems if you ingest too much.

Food #3  Commercial Smoothies

Normally, smoothies are associated with healthy eating.  They have skim milk, fruit, and yogurt, so they are considered a great, healthy food.  Some commercial smoothies, however, have many hidden calories from extra sugar.  Some smoothies are also made with ice cream, so you end up ballooning sugar, fat, and calorie content.  Most of the time, the fruit in smoothies is blended up into fruit juice, or fruit juice is added.   This eliminates the fiber that is found in the skin of most fruits.  My advice:  Make your smoothies at home, and leave the commercial smoothies on the shelf.

Food #4 Commercial Yogurts

Yogurt, again, has been considered a natural health product containing calcium, probiotics, and other products that have been shown to be beneficial to our health.  Look at the label again, and you might see something surprising.   When looking at the label, some of the first few ingredients in yogurt are different forms of sugar.  All this extra sugar can lead to weight gain and stubborn, hard-to-lose body fat.  So again, read the label and see exactly what is in the product before you choose the yogurt of choice.

Food #5 Sugary energy drinks including items with added vitamins and minerals

Energy drinks have been advertised as giving you that extra pick-me-up during the day, and a way to increase the intensity of your workouts.  Energy drinks can contain high amounts of caffeine and sugar, which gives you that initial pick-me-up, but you end up crashing hard later.  Also, some drinks that have added vitamins and minerals, can have loads of sugar as well.  So stop and think before you drink and choose something lower in calories and sugar, maybe something like coffee or tea.

Next, I am going to share with you 5 foods that are beneficial to your health, and you might not even know it.

Food #1 Swiss Chard

Aging can create many different problems for people.  Wrinkles, lack of balance, and our eyesight can worsen, and are just some of the different things that happen with the aging process.  Swiss chard is considered a super food because of some of the amazing caroteniods that can be found in this leafy green vegetable.  Swiss chard contains high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin that have been shown to help with good eyesight.   These two caroteniods have been shown to build up in the eyes, which help with the way light rays enter our eyes and are absorbed.

Food #2 Pepper, Especially Capsaicin

So most of you are probably asking why pepper is on the list.  Pepper is a zero-calories food that can add a lot of flavor to your foods.  Not only does it pack a great punch to your foods, but capsaicin has been shown to have tremendous anti-inflammatory properties.  It has also been shown to be helpful in fighting some cancers because of its anti-cancer effects.
Food #3 Wheat Grass

There are plenty of juices out there that contain Wheat Grass which is chock full of vitamins and minerals that will keep you healthy.   Loaded with Vitamins, B, C, and E, this food can help to clean out your system and fight infections.   Not only does this food contain essential vitamins and minerals, but it also is a complete protein.  This food is full of the essential amino acids that our bodies require for building muscle.   The high concentration of vitamins helps protect the body from stress that our bodies are under daily.

Food #4 Tahini

Tahini is now found in most grocery stores as an excellent source of all the B vitamins as well as calcium.  B vitamins are essential in development of healthy cells in the body, especially red blood cells.   B vitamins can also help in raising metabolism, and help our immune system become stronger.  Tahini also holds a surprising amount of calcium, zinc, and copper.  The high levels of calcium can help keep bones strong and healthy, and might be responsible in fighting some cancers. Tahini also holds an abundance of fiber, specifically sesamin and sesomolin, which can have positive effects in lowering cholesterol.
Food #5 Avocado

This amazing fruit helps reduce inflammation through some of the carotenoids found in the green, fleshy part of the avocado. This vegetable also has a tremendous amount of fat, but the good fats that are beneficial to the body. The main source of fat is Oliec acid, which helps with fat absorption and also helps to lower the risk for developing heart disease. Avocados also have phytosterols, which keep inflammation in the body under control.

How To Instantly Remove Two Of Your Biggest Weight Loss Obstacles >>

5 Exercise Goals for Beginners

A handful of things every newbie should put on his or her exercise to-do list.

Just getting started exercising? Congratulations! Your decision is one that will bring you face to face with improved health, looks, energy, and more. While there is a great temptation to swallow the entire gym whole in one bite, it’s better to take stock and come up with goals that fit your needs.
Ready to create some gym-worthy goals that will help you reach your destination of a better, healthier life? Get started with the list below.

Goal 1: Find a Time

The first thing you have to do before you work out is figure out when you’re going to head to the gym. Sure, you may go to the gym on a whim on occasion, but you can’t depend on these spur-of-the-moment trips to help you meet your other fitness goals. Rather, you’re going to have to come up with a regular time to get to the gym. Whether it’s at 4 a.m., during your lunch hour, or right after work, having a predetermined time to exercise will help you with the next goal.

Goal 2: Stick with It

Once you’ve figured out when you can work out, it’s up to you to make sure you follow through. Though you may think the benefits of exercising are enough to keep you going strong, you may be wrong. To make it a little easier to stick with your routine, give yourself a goal of sticking with your routine three days a week for three months. Once you’ve been at it for that long, it should be cemented into your schedule, making it easier to stick with exercise for the long haul. If you constantly need another goal, reset your clock for another three months a week or two before completing the initial three months.

Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going. – Jim Ryun

Goal 3: Trim or Tone

Toning up and trimming down are often the primary purposes for working out. If these are reasons for your new interest in exercise, use them to your advantage. Every day you work out, write down your weight, the most important measurements to you, and the exercises you perform. Over time, you’ll be able to see improvements in all three areas. And if you’re having trouble in one (it can be difficult to continue losing weight after a certain point), you can be encouraged by other statistics, such as your lowered blood pressure or how much longer you can stay on the treadmill now than when you first began.

Goal 4: Be Honest

When you’re first getting into your exercise regimen, it’s easy to be forthcoming about your workout routine. After all, you’re in the gym three times a day, lifting more weights in a day than you have in the past four years, and running six miles during lunch. But it becomes more difficult to be honest when you’ve been at it a while. To keep yourself honest, get an exercise partner to hold you accountable. The best way for this to work is to work out with this person every time you go to the gym. This way, your partner knows when you’ve worked out and can help you work out at the intensity necessary for you to meet your other exercise goals.

Goal 5: Limit Rewards

It’s not uncommon for people to feel they deserve rewards for every positive thing they do. If you’re one of these people, you may seek a reward for your exercising prowess. But it’s important to see the way you feel and look as your reward. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with missing a day at the gym or licking an ice cream now and then. However, if you’re not careful, your reward system can wind up making it impossible for you to meet your exercise-minded goals.