Are Keto Diets Healthy?

Are Keto Diets Healthy?

Keto diets are popping up in newsfeeds and headlines everywhere. Keto – or Ketogenic – refers to a restrictive diet that consists primarily of dietary fat, little protein, and nearly zero carbohydrates. The Keto diet was initially used as a method to treat the symptoms of epilepsy in the 1920s. You can read more on that here.

To determine whether the keto diet is “healthy” we need to define what we mean by “healthy.” For the sake of this discussion, let’s use body fat loss as our metric to define “healthy.” I’m not suggesting that losing body fat is the essence of health, but excess body fat remains to be the #1 risk factor for most lifestyle diseases.

How does one lose body fat?

Here we’ll make the distinction that most people can’t seem to grasp: weight loss is NOT fat loss. You may know this in the conscious part of your brain, but we’re always pulled back to the scale as our measuring tool. We love data and numbers so the scale becomes the least expensive and readily available measuring stick for progress. But it doesn’t tell the whole story.

What did life look like before a keto diet?

This is the first question I ask of anyone who has seen rapid weight loss on a keto diet. More often than not, the answer involves junk food, a ton of sugar, minimal protein, and zero plants. These foods have an inflammatory response (bloating). They’re also typically very high in sodium (water weight) and contain little to no fiber.

A keto diet — by nature — limits inflammatory foods, “empty” calories, and encourages you to eat vegetables. So right off the bat, you don’t feel bloated, you’re losing water weight, and you’re consuming WAY more fiber and micro-nutrients than before. Combine that with nearly zero carbohydrates (carbs transport water to your cells), and you have the perfect recipe for rapid weight loss. But is that weight fat? Probably not.

Is “fat burning” mode a real thing?

The keto diet reports that your body enters a state of using fat as fuel through your body’s production of ketones. This can be difficult to measure without some pretty sophisticated and very expensive equipment. So we resort to the scale as our measuring stick. But, we’re still humans on earth and bound by the pesky laws of physics. Therefore, fat can only be lost at a rate of 1-2 pounds per week. Regardless of the diet you choose, if you’re losing more than 1-2 pounds per week you’re losing some combination of water and muscle.

The carbohydrate debate – what does real science say?

Carbs are the most hotly-debated macronutrient in all of nutrition. But what does science say about carbohydrates? Not theoretical science but actual peer-reviewed, repeatable, controlled-study science. Wait for it… CARBS DON’T MATTER. 

That’s right. And it should be expected if you really understand how hard science works. Hard science moves at a glacier’s pace. It’s slow, incremental, and builds upon itself. There have been no scientific “discoveries” as ground-breaking and game-changing as your Instagram newsfeed reports.

You can check out this meta-analysis of all the high/low carb studies. Here’s another study that shows that calories, not carbs are the #1 factor in weight loss.


Keto diets aren’t inherently healthy or unhealthy. The fat loss benefits of keto can be achieved with other methods. But, some people like the “rules” associated with keto. And that’s fine if it’s sustainable for you. I hope your takeaway is that there is no magic bullet for fat loss. There’s no secret diet that you’ve yet to discover. Sustainability is the key to any diet you choose – keto or otherwise.

Here’s a challenge: If you’re considering a change to keto run a little self-experiment. Instead of going from junk food to keto go to a diet rich in plants, varied carbohydrates, healthy fat, and adequate protein. Science shows that you’ll see the same fat loss results as a low-carb, high-fat diet and chances are it’s a lot more sustainable.

What are your thoughts? Have you tried keto?

For more info and tips, watch this video with Sabrena Jo – Chief Science Officer for the American Council on Exercise:





Getting to Know Kim Lacy of Premier Nutrition

Caring | Honest | Driven

Having Kim offer Nutrition Coaching at The Hill is such an asset to our community. Plus she’s a dedicated CrossFitter and we love having her on the team. Kim recently launched her business Premier Nutrition KC and offers simple honest and informed advice for people living in the real world.

Let’s get to  know more about Kim…

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? A veterinarian 

Where did you grow up? Omaha, Nebraska.

Favorite class or activity in high school? I loved my marketing class and being apart of DECA. I actually went to nationals one year too!

Voted in high school most likely to? To succeed (hopefully it comes true!)

Most interesting part time job? Worked part time at a Cryotherapy company. Was able to do the cryo booth for free every time I worked, and I actually think it worked.

Song you can rap? Pop Bottles by Birdman ft. Lil Wayne.

Got any hidden talents? I’m really good at the limbo. 

What do you like about KC? I love how it has big city attractions and things to do, but doesn’t have big city traffic.

Your Job Title at The Hill. Nutrition Coach.

How & when did you get connected to The Hill? Started coming to the Hill in October of 2016.

How long have you been a nutrition coach? 5 years.

Why Nutrition? What motivates you personally? I love when I’m able to positively impact someone’s life. And make them feel their best!

What do you love about your job? I get to talk about food! I love food!  Oh and making people healthier and happier 🙂

What certifications do you hold and which are you most proud of? Precision Nutrition Level One, ACSM Personal Trainer. 

What’s something you wish everyone knew about health and fitness? Dieting is terrible for you and doesn’t work! Slowly start to removed the common processed foods in your diet with whole foods.

What is something you are working on improving as an athlete personally?  Working on improving my pull-ups, and maybe getting a muscle up in 2019!

What are you looking forward to in 2019? My business!  I recently switched full time jobs so I now have more time to service clients and create new content.  Hopefully by the end of the year Premier Nutrition KC with be my full-time job!

Is there anything you would like to say to the team or #fitfam? I appreciate you guys so much!! I would not be able to do this job that I love without the support from all of you!!

CrossFit probably isn’t for you… but you’ll be surprised why.

I’ve been professionally involved in the healthcare industry for 14 years now. I’ve worked in medical transport, long-term care, and health policy. About a decade in, it became abundantly clear that health coaching, fitness, nutrition, and mindset was the path to solve our healthcare problems. Furthermore, I’m convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that lives are changed not through willpower but through relationship; relationship with community, coaches, and those that come from a different walk of life.

When I left my career in traditional healthcare, I asked myself the following questions:

  • Where are adults learning new, difficult things?
  • Where are adults meeting new, diverse people?
  • Where are adults practicing new physical skills under the guidance of professional coaches?
  • Where are adults doing all of the above for several hours per week, for years and years?
  • What is the most economical way for people to access all of these?

I ended up with a “C” word.

You guessed it. To be honest I thought CrossFit was the dumbest thing in the world. Bad form, douche bags, cult-like behavior, and injuries galore. Turns out, CrossFit is more like the Wizard of Oz than I thought. From the outside it’s this intimidating, insular group of super-fit, shirtless 20-somethings with under-trained instructors screaming “one more rep!!!!” But a peek behind the curtain revealed a group of highly-motivated professionals, generous community leaders, and an environment that looked more like “Cheers” than “Full Metal Jacket.”

CrossFit probably isn’t for you, though.

I say “probably” in the strictest, most statistical sense of the word. Statistically speaking, roughly 3%-5% of the population of the United States gets the recommended amount of physical activity, eats vegetables, and gets adequate sleep. CrossFit requires that you pay attention to all of these things. Well… your body requires that you pay attention to all these things. And CrossFit requires you to use your body functionally so the two go hand-in-hand.

Why you think you can’t do CrossFit.

Most people will say they’re unable to do CrossFit because of their age, physical abilities, schedule, family, or history with exercise. I’ve yet to meet the person for whom that is true. If you peel back the onion, there’s typically self-doubt or fear underlying those reasons. Combine that with negative messaging from a now-disrupted traditional fitness industry, and you see why this thought is so pervasive.

Who is CrossFit for, then?

I think we should first define what is CrossFit. The textbook definition is “constantly varied functional movement performed at a relative high intensity.” There’s quite a bit that falls into that definition. You could fit Zumba, Yoga, and Powerlifting all into that single definition. And — across the world’s 14,000 some-odd affiliates — you’ll likely find all three.

But said differently, I describe CrossFit as: “the best practices from every discipline of fitness made accessible to the masses by professional coaches.” At our gym we do bodybuilding courses, powerlifting classes, yoga classes, nutrition coaching, half-marathon training, and the “CrossFit” you’ve likely seen on YouTube. We take the approach that anything that has a grounding in peer-reviewed science is fair game as long as our coaches can learn, master, and teach the skill.

But most people will still shy away. The sad part is that they’ll project some inner inadequacy as their reason for not trying it out. “I’m too old. I’m too fat. I’m too ___ and I could never do that.” I’d retire for a dollar every time I’ve heard that. But the truth is that CrossFit isn’t for everyone because it requires you to face those pre-conceptions about your own ability head-on. It requires that you expose yourself to failure. If you’re really really strong, there will certainly be a day in CrossFit when you’ll need to run a 5k and be humbled. The reverse is also true. I’m 10 years into this thing and I’m routinely humbled.

But, the growth I’ve experienced from repeated exposure to new and difficult things has changed my life. In my career alone, I’ve developed a confidence and tolerance for difficulty that was never there before. I’ve learned that meaningful relationships are borne of overcoming obstacles. And that doesn’t even take into account the biological benefits of regular exercise.

Probably not for you and that’s OK.

My preference is that people wouldn’t beat themselves up with negativity when they say they “could never do that.” Whether it’s travel to a foreign country, quitting a job you hate, or starting a new exercise routine you CAN do things that seem scary. Millions of people before you have done it. My hope is that your default reaction to anything that you want but are afraid of is to move toward it. More often than not, that fear is a healthy indicator that you should probably give it a go.

How to come back to the gym after a break

Whether the break was 1 week or 25, coming back to the gym after some time off is really really difficult. It is more difficult than starting for the first time by what seems to be a factor of ten. But it’s a new year and you’re ready to get back at it. This re-start is a pivotal point in your life of fitness. It’s really important that your re-start is done strategically. Here are some tips:

Define terms

For the sake of this post, let’s define a “break” according to the minimum recommended training schedule. Let’s say a “break” is six or more weeks of less than 90 minutes of vigorous activity. You can actually maintain a substantial amount of fitness in just 90 minutes per week or three 30 minute sessions. Even if you had a week or two of consistency broken up by weeks of not-so-much consistency, we’ll still call this a break.

Get brutally honest about the break

Maybe you needed or wanted the break. In that case, nice work! Seasons are super important in life and fitness. It’s actually beneficial to take a week off or take 12 weeks of going easy, yet consistently. But let’s say you didn’t plan the break. What are the things you told yourself about the break? Did they have to do with external factors? Or maybe you just simply beat yourself up. In either case, that’s the wrong approach and won’t serve you. It’s a great habit to get your mind in the zone of ownership. Our brains are particularly good at justifying past actions. It’s a defense mechanism against physical danger, but doesn’t serve us very well in the modern world. Here’s an example of one of my own failings:

I wanted to write more in 2018. I didn’t write as much as I intended. But I was really busy. I started building a new gym, launched a new software company, re-structured our organization, and started a nonprofit. Plus I wanted to stay as available as possible to our team and members during this time. 

It’s a convincing argument, right? And it’s a justifiable argument if my goal isn’t as important as my other prioritiesMeaning, I say writing more is important. But if I don’t actually write more, I need to ask myself a new set of questions:

  • Do people busier than me write as much as I would like to? Yes
  • Is writing important enough to me that I’m willing to be inconvenienced in other areas? Yes
  • Can I wake up earlier, watch less Netflix, or outsource an activity to find 3o minutes a day to write? Yes

You can look at this exercise one of two ways: I’m blaming myself (negative) or I’m taking ownership (empowering). By taking ownership of the situation, I’m not only more likely to achieve the desired goal but I’m practicing a skill that will serve me in other areas of my life and work.

The mind of a noob

When you first started working with a coach, you were probably entirely bought into the process. This is due to a combination of fear of something new and the accountability of working 1-on-1 with a professional coach. Adopt that mindset again. Pretend like it’s your first time working out, ask questions of your coaches, and take it slow.

There’s no making up for lost time

There’s a great saying that’s often used in health and investing for retirement: “The best time to start was yesterday. The second best time is today.” Just like sleep, you won’t be able to work out “extra” and make up for the break. Remember the movie “50 First Dates”? Pretend like your first day back is your first day altogether. You’ll be tempted to zero in on how fit you used to be. This is wasted mental energy. You’ll probably event comment on it to people around you. DON’T. Don’t let vocalizing a poor mindset define your actual mindset.

You are at your highest risk for injury

Our #1 red flag for injury potential is not the brand new I’ve never exercised in my life athlete. It’s most certainly the but I played football in college and lift weights all the time I don’t need to be coached athlete. If you’re coming back from a break you may be teetering in the camp of “I know how to do all this.” You are now equipped with the mental toughness and technique you gained when you first went through an intro program. Because you already have these skills, you’ll be tempted to ramp it up too quickly. Keep the weight light, the gymnastics simple, and the intensity low. Build them up until March. Then set it loose.

Prioritize most important things

Sleep is more important than nutrition and nutrition is more important than exercise. If you have limited time, focus that time on the things that will have a compounding positive effect on the others. If you’re going to eat like garbage but work out 5 times a week, just work out twice and meal prep the other three days. Those two workouts will have a much better result than the 5 with poor nutrition.

Go easy on yourself

We’re not wired for delayed gratification. The fact that you even adopted a healthy lifestyle change in the first place puts you in the vast minority of people. Celebrate that! Remind yourself that you’re doing something good for your future self and family. Find tiny milestones along the way to celebrate your progress. Grab a buddy and keep each other accountable. Aim low with how many times you commit to the gym or meal prep, but aim for consistency. And — as always — reach out to a coach for an assist.

Your Brain and New Years Resolutions – What’s Going On In There?

I’m often pegged as the “anti-Resolution” guy. Not the case at all. I’m definitely the “anti-Resolution that will make you feel like shit” guy though. To understand why your New Years Resolutions end with you feeling really crappy come March you’ll need to understand just a little bit about how your brain chemistry works.

Your brain on Drugs.

The turning over of the calendar and seasons has been an important part of our development as a species. As we look back on all records of ancient civilizations, we see that humans have been obsessed with the sun, stars, and seasons ever since we stepped out of the cave. Looking ahead into the future with hope and optimism is an important part of the human experience. Without the confidence that the sun will come back tomorrow, this can be a pretty scary world.

This innate desire to look ahead with hope is so important to our survival as a species that our brains have evolved to make us feel really good when we do so. We have a built-in drug that’s better than anything you’ll find at Coachella – dopamine. Dopamine is released when we think on potential positive outcomes. It’s the butterflies you feel after a surprisingly normal Tinder encounter. It’s what you feel after getting offered that dream job. It’s the perfect combination of optimism, opportunity, challenge, and healthy fear.

Your brain on Resolutions.

Thanksgiving usually marks the beginning of the holiday season. It also marks the beginning of a lot of biological factors that contribute to an all-time low production of the miracle dopamine drug. Days are approaching their shortest of the year which means you’re getting less Vitamin D, going outside less, and your sleep cycle is all jacked up. On top of that, your routine is thrown off with weird work weeks, weird food habits, and financial stress. Compound all these biological abnormalities with increased alcohol consumption and family dynamics and you have the perfect recipe for feeling like a heap of shit.

But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel! You see your schedule normalizing, holidays are in the rearview mirror, and there’s a new year ahead. You commit to get your shit together, spend less, drink less, workout more, and eat a piece of broccoli.

If you’re a coffee drinker and you’ve ever taken an extended break, you know that first cup off the wagon will knock your socks off. That’s your dopamine right now. It’s been at an all-time low, so feeling it for the first time in awhile is like a huge jolt straight to your jugular. So what should we do with it?

Put it in Context.

Use the drug – don’t try to be “too cool for school” and act like you don’t feel it. But, remind yourself that it’s a biological phenomenon and does not determine if you’re a good person, a driven person, or a disciplined person. You’re just a human with a biological body that is affected by seasons.

Know you’ll develop a Tolerance.

Just like with any drug, you’ll develop a tolerance to dopamine. It will run out in about 6 weeks. Plan on it. And plan for it.

Write down the things you’ll Tell Yourself.

This is the tough part. Once your tolerance for dopamine goes into effect, other parts of your brain will take the driver’s seat. These parts of your brain are much less concerned with the future than the dopamine part of your brain. Remember, dopamine exists to give us hope and plan for the future. Once it’s gone, the simpler — but more developed and stronger — parts of our brain will take over. Here are some things that the more short-sighted parts of our brain will say. I’M GOING TO EMPHASIZE THIS AGAIN IN HOPES THAT YOU REALLY LET IT SINK IN… YOU WILL TELL YOURSELF THESE THINGS AND THEY WILL BE VERY CONVINCING BECAUSE YOU ARE USING A DIFFERENT PART OF YOUR BRAIN. THEY WILL FEEL LIKE REALITY.

  • I’m too busy to ____.
  • Family obligations got in the way of ____.
  • Work is very _____ right now.

I know it is really hard to conceptualize competing ideas. For example, “My kids’ soccer schedule makes it to where I can’t work out.” Certainly a valid point, right? Especially valid because I get to be the “hero” that places my kids’ needs above my own. Their soccer certainly needs to take precedent over my health. Fast forward 5 years when you can’t even kick a ball with your kid because you’re too tired or out of shape. Fast forward 50 years when your kid puts their family’s lives on hold because your health has become so degenerative that you can’t live on your own.

Or “work is so busy I can’t work out.” There are mountains of evidence that show how regular, intense exercise makes you 20% more productive at work and increases your cognitive abilities three-fold. Science actually says you’re too busy to not work out.

Try this Instead.

The part of your brain responsible for delayed gratification — the main driver of your resolutions — is also the most under-developed part of your brain. The vast majority of resolutions will be some version of “exercise & diet.” These are the hardest resolutions to stick to because your brain will not be rewarded for its effort for several months or even decades.

Think of it like flossing your teeth. When are you most likely to floss? In the week leading up to your next dentist appointment, of course. Why? Because the rewards from flossing are just a week away but the consequences are decades off. Hopefully the flossing analogy helps put into context the “I’m too busy” things you’ll be telling yourself mid-February. You objectively have 60 seconds a day to floss, but most people don’t. It’s not because of time, it’s because the rewards are too far off and the consequences are even further off. Your health is the same way.

Instead of a “get in shape” or an “eat healthier” resolution, choose a skill that you’ll need in order to achieve those two. There’s an added bonus if the skill helps you in other areas of your life since the rewards will be more immediate, cementing the positive behavior deep in your brain. Here are a few “resolutions” that will not only help you get healthier but will also have positive benefits for your family, your stress levels, and your productivity at work:

  • Pack a lunch (it can be anything… even junk food) at least 4 days per week
  • Cut the average number of times you hit “snooze” in half
  • Get out of bed within 5 minutes of your alarm going off
  • Write down 3 things for which you’re grateful each morning
  • Drink a big glass of water first thing in the morning
  • Spend 5 minutes foam rolling each night

There’s no doubt that you’ll have the ability to do one of these things each and every day for the next year. Remember: consistency is the key to anything. Begin to build consistency in the tiny things and you’ll see the massive trickle-down effect it’ll have on your overall health.


Getting to Know Coach Jay Alexander

Caring | Honest | Driven

These are the values we hold as a team.

Jay exemplifies “Caring, Honest & Driven” with authenticity and grace.
Jay started coaching at The Hill in May and he couldn’t be a better fit for our team. He opens the doors for our 6am crew and makes sure to have them ready to take on the day. Jay loves yoga, a good dance party and his rambunctious puppy. We are so lucky to have Jay coaching at The Hill!

Let’s get to know Coach Jay a little better…

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?  Olympic speed skater, but I probably should have learned how to skate to make that one happen.

Where did you grow up? Overland Park, KS

Favorite class or activity in high school? Broadcasting.

Voted in high school most likely to..? Most likely to change the world (high expectations, I know…).

Most interesting part time job? I worked as a camp counselor in northern Wisconsin one summer in college.

Got any hidden talents? I took a hip hop dance class in college, so I’ve got a few moves I can pull out if the right song comes on. And  I can rap all the words to Baby Got Back and HeadBands, and probably most other 2000’s hip hop.

What do you like about KC? BBQ, Boulevard, and the people that call it home!

Coaching: Your Job Title at The Hill. 6am Group Coach

How & when did you get connected to The Hill? When I moved back to KC after college in May of 2018 I knew I wanted to keep coaching and I instantly felt at home with the community at The Hill so here we are!

How long have you been coaching? Since May of 2017.

Why Coach? – what motivates you personally? CrossFit was the first thing that made me think I’m strong, and the physical and mental benefits of that realization have changed my life.

What do you love about your job? First and foremost, the people that I get to work for and with. Seeing people wake up early to work hard in the gym inspires me to be the best coach I can be for them that day. Also, I get to dance and listen to music during work, so that’s pretty awesome too.

What certifications do you hold and which are you most proud of? BS in Kinesiology, CF – L1 and RYT 200. Probably should say I’m proudest of the degree since it cost by far the most!

What continuing ed are you planning or currently doing? Currently completing my Doctorate of Physical Therapy at KU Med, and aiming to get my CrossFit Level-2 by the end of 2019.

How would you describe your coaching style? Laid-back, personal, and encouraging.

What’s something you wish everyone knew about health and fitness? I wish everyone knew that you don’t have to be the fastest or the strongest to fit in at the gym. No one is judging you because we’re all just trying to become the best versions of ourselves, and even just showing up proves that you’re already a badass.

What is something you are working on improving as an athlete personally? Focusing on weightlifting currently, and having a positive mindset going into every workout and lift.

Anything else you would like to share with The Hill family? I’m a new dog dad to a black lab, so if you have any tips on how to get him to stop chewing on everything please let me know.



5 Tips for Easier Meal Prep

There are a few universal truths when it comes to either losing weight or gaining muscle. Truth Number 1: Nutrition is #1. Truth Number 2: If you do not meal prep you will fail at #1. Meal prep doesn’t need to be nearly as daunting as you think. Follow these simple tips and practice, practice, practice!

1. Plan to Fail

You want to lose that last 2o pounds. Or maybe you want to get a bit stronger. Whatever your goal is, you should just assume right off the bat that you’re going to find a way to not follow through. You’ll say you’re too busy. You’ll say family obligations got in the way. You’ll say that you just don’t know what to do.

But none of these are true. The truth is deeply rooted in behavioral science. Decision fatigue is a phenomenon that occurs when you’re forced to make decision after decision throughout the day. Your cognitive ability goes down and your ability to make decisions becomes worse and worse. By knowing exactly what you’ll be eating from each meal in a given day you’ve “pre-made” a decision, eliminating the risk of decision fatigue.

The second factor at play is that you’re starting a new habit. Any new habit you start will be the first one to go at the first sign of difficulty. You’re never “too busy” to brush your teeth are you? What about being “too busy” to shower? What about being “too busy” to chit chat at work? Why are we never “too busy” for these things? Because these are normal parts of our routine and habits; it would feel weird to not do them. The newest habits are always the first to go.

2. Should you change your own oil?

Do you change the oil in your car? Could you do it? Probably. It’s an easy enough task after all. But should you do it? Let’s say that you can go somewhere and have it done for $35. If you were to do it yourself, you’d probably spend half that on oil and a filter. Seems like a great deal, right?


By the time you run to the store to buy your oil and filter, you’re about 40 minutes into the project. Then, you change your oil. Now you have a bunch of old oil in containers in your garage. You’re a good citizen, so you won’t just dump that stuff in the road. Now, you have to find somewhere to dispose of the old stuff. You probably have a solid 2 hours invested in this project. That 35 bucks doesn’t seem so bad now does it?

Get real with yourself. If you’ve tried to meal prep time and time again but can’t seem to do it on your own, budget to have someone else do it for you. This “expense” is an investment in your long-term health and wellness. I promise that money spent to have healthy food on hand is money better spent than your dumb car payment, clothes, drinks at the bar, or any other non-investment that will be obsolete in a matter of months.

3. Don’t let perfection get in the way of progress

Will your first week of meal prep be perfect? Of course not! You’re a beginner. Think about healthy food decisions in the same way you think about your development in any area of your life. The first time I picked up a guitar, I wasn’t shredding Stairway to Heaven. I wasn’t doing algebra in 2nd grade either.

Start small. Maybe you only prep breakfast for a month. Hell, that’s a win! Let’s even dial it back a bit to just snacks. Instead of heading to the candy machine at 2:00 this afternoon, pack some beef jerky, an apple, and a dozen almonds. You don’t even need to cook that!

4. See meals as formulas, not recipes

Imagine a plate divided into 8 equal parts. Here’s the breakdown of how each plate should look:

  • 4 parts colorful vegetables
  • 2 parts lean protein
  • 1 part starch
  • 1 part healthy fat

No talk of “macros” or anything complicated. This is just a plate of broccoli, skirt steak, a couple small potatoes, and a thumb-sized piece of avocado. A little salt & pepper and you got yourself a delicious meal!

Grocery shop with the same formula

Meal prep will get expensive if you go to the store to buy ingredients for recipes. If you shop according to a formula, it won’t be as expensive nor daunting. As an example, let’s look at how I would buy protein for myself for a week.

I shoot to eat between 150-175 grams of lean protein in a given day, broken into 3 meals. I’ll get Postmates or go out for 2 meals in a given week. So, in a 7-day week, I need to prep for 19 meals each containing roughly 40 grams of protein. Here’s what that’d look like:

  • 10 medium chicken breasts
  • 5 medium sized sirloin steaks
  • 18 large eggs, 1/2 whites

Pretty basic, right? You just need to sit down and write down what are your daily needs then you’ll eventually be able to eye-ball it when you go to the store.

5. Get inspired

There is some emerging research suggesting that one’s ability to eat the same thing repeatedly may be linked to lower rates of obesity. I’ve often dubbed this one’s ability to “eat like a grown-up.” Yeah, I don’t love vegetables either. Kettle Chips are better than chicken breasts. And Sour Patch Kids trump everything. But I also don’t enjoy feeling like garbage and spending another year complaining about not reaching my body composition goals. As you’re learning to live a healthier life, you’ll need to tolerate some level of discomfort.

But that doesn’t mean that you’re stuck in this rut of dry chicken breast and raw broccoli. Food should be pleasurable! If you’re having a hard time getting inspiration for new meal prep ideas, I recommend you try what Maggie and I do every summer: Meal delivery.

Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, and a whole host of other companies have come on the scene to offer ready-to-cook meals delivered to your doorstep. What a time we’re living in! Here’s what to do:

  • Sign up for one of the 3-week specials that these companies offer (don’t forget to cancel!).
  • Repeat the above for one or two other first-time specials.
  • Find 3-4 recipes that you really enjoyed but were also fairly easy to prepare with simple ingredients.
  • Make note of the portions of the 3 elements of your plate – veggies, protein, and starch.
  • Scale up the portions, make a grocery list, and make however many meals you’d like to prep for the week.

Repeat this process 1-2 times throughout the year. As you switch from one provider to the next, they’ll send you more coupons to get you back. Then, you’ll learn some new recipes to keep things fresh throughout the year.

What have you done that has really helped with your meal prep? What’s keeping you from doing it if it’s still a struggle? What actions can you take this week to step it up?


Getting to Know Hollie Siegel

Caring Honest Driven
These are the values that we hold as a team at The Hill.

This month we are getting to know Hollie Siegel!
Miss Hollie is a ray of sunshine and encouragement. She is always caring for others in any way she can. Adding her to the team was an easy decision. Front Desk and Maintenance Maven, she does it all. Plus, she got us all lifting pumpkins at our first Boo Bash!


Let’s get to know more about Miss Hollie…

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to work in a marketing department of a major movie studio.

Where did you grow up? Lenexa (KS)

Favorite class or activity in high school? Study Hall, hahaha! In all seriousness, I liked English because I enjoy writing.

Most known for growing up? Go my own way, be my own person — being an individual, better to be true to myself.

Most interesting part time job? I did an internship at a market research company and the owner (Gerry Cain) was a visionary, a genius, and a very good person. Great training for my future.

Share a movie or show you can quote… Movie: “Star Wars” (that’s an easy one!}; TV: “Seinfeld” and “Miami Vice”.

Got any hidden talents?  I am an expert party/event planner, master Lego video game player, voracious reader, and I can spend hours diving off a diving board and spending time in the deep end of a pool. And I know more about movie music/soundtracks than you can shake a stick at. Truth!

What do you like about KC? Really like the variety of people, parts of town and cultures. Love that it’s so easy to get around town, there’s lots to do, some special restaurants, and let’s be real . . . the barbecue!

Coaching: Your Job Title at The Hill? Head of Facilities & Special Projects Coordinator. Front Desk Smiles. 

How & when did you get connected to The Hill? My husband and I met Brian “Z.” in May 2015 and then I met with Coach Joshy in October 2015 for my first “no sweat” session. I joined The Hill the first week of November 2015.

CrossFit goals? Completed my internship at The Hill in December 2017 and plan to take the CrossFit Level 1 exam by April 2019. After that, I am so excited to eventually join the coaching staff.

Why Coach? – what motivates you personally? I love helping people, I really do. It can be explaining a movement, but I really like to connect personally — I want to know what makes people happy and excited, I want to know about them. I am motivated to help people love their time at The Hill (keeping them safe, making sure they have fun and support, and that it’s the best hour of their day). If I can make one person smile, I’ve accomplished something special.

What do you love about your job? Everything! Seriously and really! I’ve found my tribe and there are so many opportunities to engage with both the great people that work at The Hill and all the fantastic members. I also love, love, love that I am being given opportunities to take on new projects that play to my strengths (marketing, writing, etc.).

Education: Masters of Degree in Journalism from the University of Kansas.

What continuing ed are you planning or currently doing?  I am studying for the CrossFit Level 1 Exam, which I will take in the first quarter of 2019. Best possible outcome is that I am coaching by end of 2019. So exciting!

How would you describe your coaching style? Enthusiastic, driven, positive — I want the best out of each athlete and the best for each athlete. I have their best interests at heart.

What’s something you wish everyone knew about health and fitness? It’s all about nutrition — that’s the key to everything. You can exercise all day, but it’s the fuel that matters. You can go run a mile and then eat a snickers or two cookies and you’ve negated the good work you did. It’s all about nutritious intake now, tomorrow, next week, next year, next ten years, etc. Consistency is crucial.

What is something you are working on improving as an athlete personally? I’m working on a few things — I am not a good runner (I would rather walk, lol!), so everyday I run/walk a mile, and then walk a second mile to improve my cardio endurance. I want to be able to run an entire mile with no breaks in 6 months, hopefully sooner.

Also want to get back to being able to dead lift 200 pounds, which is doable, and surpass my current back squat PR of 190 pounds. In 2019, I will take on learning double-unders, rope climb progression, and improving my burpee technique to get faster (and breathe at the same time!).

What are you looking forward to? So many positive, happy things — becoming a stronger runner, bringing more intensity to the daily WODs, continuing to learn French (through Duolingo), going on vacation with my husband (John), and finding ways to add meaning and value to everything I do at The Hill.

Anything else you would like to share with The Hill family? From the moment I joined The Hill almost three years ago, I knew this is where I wanted to spend the rest of my career. I found my tribe of people, a family where I fit in and am accepted for who I am. And The Hill is the place where I can maximize my skill tool set and continuously learn. The people are the difference maker — so many great, amazing and wonderful people that are a joy to be around. I love what I do. I love my husband. I love The Hill. And I love life.

How to break through a CrossFit plateau

One of the most effective aspects of CrossFit training is its variety. Not only does the daily variety of stimuli help keep athletes interested in training, but it also serves the important function of staving off a plateau well into your training life.

When does a plateau occur?

Let’s set some parameters for this discussion and assume that you are training consistently for at least three hours per week. If you’re struggling to get in the minimum effective training time, your plateau is more behavioral than physiological.








For most consistent trainees, the plateau in this graph usually represents the 18-24 month mark in their training. You’ll see that improvement happens very rapidly at first but then slows as time goes on.

Why does this occur? 

This plateau can be summed up simply: The thing that resulted in you initial fitness won’t be the thing that improves your next phase of fitness. There are two distinct types of plateaus that are caused by basic physiology. As I’ve talked about before, continued improvements in fitness require that you not violate the SAID principle: Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. In short, you can’t run the same speed and distance or lift the same weight at the same speed and expect to improve. In CrossFit, we measure the improvement of fitness with power.

Power = Work / Time

Let’s turn back time 20 years and look at our old formula to understand the new formula. Back in the days of leotards and body-building, we didn’t have a tight definition of improved fitness. That’s because how your body looks was superior to how your body performs.

In bodybuilding, the formula looks like this: cause as much muscle fiber damage as possible during training, then eat enough calories to put on muscle but not excess body fat. 

Still a pretty simple formula, but very few people with full time jobs and families have the time to effectively train this way for years without a plateau. That’s why most of your “globo-gyms” are set up to encourage this type of training. They know that you’ll never show up after six weeks, so they over-sell their memberships by a factor of 10. Imagine an airline sells 10 times the seats on each flight, knowing that only 10% of the people who have paid them will board the plane.

So we changed the formula of fitness. Power encompasses performance, not just looks. But — turns out — power also has favorable benefits to physique. Win-win.

Plateau type 1: You’re not doing enough.

In our power equation, “work” can be reflective of the size of a dumb bell, a wall ball, the distance you run, or the calories you row. “Time” is simply how long that work took you to do; either the total time it took to perform the workout or the nanoseconds it took for your elbows to turn around on a clean.

The first type of plateau occurs when you settle into the same “work” each time. Type 1’s were usually very intimidated at the thought of CrossFit and barbells and relative intensity. You probably spent upwards of 12 months considering even stepping foot into an introductory class.


Nice work!!! But still in the back of your mind there is this nagging fear of failure. That you don’t want to try too hard and fall flat on your face.

I’m not advocating for unsafe movements or loads whatsoever. 

I’m saying that you’ll need to eventually swap out your 10# wall ball for a 14# wall ball. You’ll need to get knocked down the mountain just a tad in order to push through this plateau. It will feel as uncomfortable as day 1, but it’s absolutely necessary.

Is this me?

  • Track your workout times for a week and make note of where you fall in relation to the intent and the rest of class. If you’re 10% or more under that number, choose something each day that is just a tad more difficult than you normally would.
  • Make a mental note of your fellow athletes’ post-workout response. Are they writhing on the floor in a heap of sweat after one of Coach Josh’s “Impossible WODs?” If you had the energy to notice someone else’s response or performance, you probably weren’t doing enough. 

Plateau type 2: You’re doing too much.

This one is a little more difficult to diagnose because your judgement is clouded. You were plateau type 1 at some point and then you took my advice and did more. And it worked!

You started to do “Rx” weights and you maybe even started seeing yourself at the top of a few leaderboards. So you did more of what worked the first time. But then your equation got a little top heavy.

A top-heavy power equation results in injury, fatigue, weight gain, and — hopefully this is the one you recognize first — a decrease in performance. 

A top heavy power equation inevitably leads to a lower “time” in the bottom half of the power equation. By nature, an empty-barbell thruster will travel at a greater speed than a bodyweight thruster. But there’s a balance in there that must be met. Here’s an example workout to illustrate this point:

5 Rounds for time of: 

5 Power Cleans, 225 / 155
10 Handstand Push Ups
15 Wall Balls, 30 / 20

Intent: sub-12:00

Pretty nasty workout, right? But, what makes it “nasty”? The sub-12:00 intent. This intent exists to create balance in your power output equation; it assumes ~2:00 rounds. 2:00 rounds means that your power cleans will need to be quick singles with less than 5 seconds rest in between, your handstand push-ups unbroken, and your heavy wall balls unbroken.

But “time” in the power equation isn’t just your WOD time. It’s also the speed at which you lock out a push-up or the micro-second turnaround time on your dumb bell snatch.

The question you ask yourself becomes not “can I do that” but rather “can I do that with the power output required to meet the intent.”

If the intent were sub-22:00, we’re shooting for a low power-output stimulus. You can do those heavy power cleans every :45, you can break up your handstand push-ups into slow, slogging sets, and you can do three sets of five wall-balls. Same workout, entirely different stimulus. Both versions of this workout have a place in your training — you’ll need to start to recognize the difference.

I’d personally opt for a 175# power clean, stick with the HSPU as written (they’re a strength of mine), and do 2 rounds of 30# WB & 3 rounds @ 20#. Could I power clean 225? Yes. But it’d be sluggish, outside the intent, and result in me having a worse overall power clean than when I started.

Are you type 2?

  • You’ve been time-capped more than twice a year for reasons of load or gymnastics complexity (time caps are typically set 15-20% outside intent; i.e. shouldn’t happen).
  • You’ve thought “yeah Bill got a faster time than me, but I did the ‘rx’ weight”
  • There is a big discrepancy between your efficiency in one area vs. another; this is typically endurance/strength or strength/gymnastics.

What everyone can do about it.

  1. Don’t use a WOD to get better at gymnastics or stronger on a barbell. This will result in poor power output, making your plateau even worse.
  2. Take a video of yourself. Set up your phone against a chalk bucket and look at your lifts compared to someone you’d consider “fast” or “snappy” in their lifts (i.e. Coach Mindy). Use weights that have you looking like her in a conditioning workout.
  3. EMOMs are the best thing, ever. You’re likely here 5-10 minutes before or after class starts. Use that time to work on something. Here are some of my favorite ways to get better:
    1. 10:00 EMOM of 2x Snatch: start with an empty bar, adding 10-20 pounds each minute. Make note of the weight at which your reps slow down.
    2. 5:00 EMOM: 3x PERFECT handstand push-ups
    3. 5:00 EMOM: 5x butterfly pull-ups, adding 1 rep each minute
  4. Only good reps count; bad reps subtract. There’s a lot of debate on the “10,000 hour” rule. But, let’s use it for the sake of argument. Performing 10,000 power cleans will not make you world class. Performing 10,000 excellent power cleans just may. BUT each sluggish power clean performed while fatigued will count against your 10,000.

Be patient when pushing past a plateau. Just like climbing mountains, there are times when you’ll need to backtrack in order to find a path of less resistance. You got this!



The 3 Things Your Fittest Friends Have in Common

I’ve heard a TON of really inspirational transformation stories. My response has usually been some version of “nice work… you should be so proud of yourself!” Two years ago, I changed my approach to ask “what was the thing that finally made it stick?”

After diving deep into the psychology of behavior change, I learned that most adults will go through four to five attempts to lose weight or “get fit” before they settle into the thing that works.

Personally, I’m incredibly grateful for my weight loss occurring at a fairly young age — I got serious about it at 13 years old. I was pretty overweight, got made fun of a lot (low hanging fruit when your first name rhymes with “fat”), and I had no concept of what a healthy meal looked like. I’ll never forget the day a teacher mentioned that he was giving up soda to lose weight. I never had another Coca Cola after that day.

Life was easier then. Aside from showing up to school, doing my chores, and practicing music my responsibilities were pretty much nonexistent. Combine that with a new interest in girls and constant jabbing from my peers and you have a pretty simple recipe for behavior change. All the motivation was there even though much it was negative. Compared to most of my peers, I was given the gift of learning to say “no” to treats and “yes” to exercise two decades ahead of time.

Behavior change as an adult is a much harder endeavor. We’re talking about re-wiring decades of stimulus-response mechanisms with all the responsibilities and stressors of adulthood compounded with a media barrage telling us there’s a “secret” that we just don’t know about yet. Here’s the real secret: there is none.

Here are the three characteristics I’ve discovered by asking folks just like you “what was the thing that made it stick?”

1. They take the long view

Warren Buffett famously said about investing “be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” To use a recent example, the time to buy bitcoin was when everyone was afraid to buy bitcoin. Or, the time to pull your money out of real estate investment was when people were saying “this is going to increase in value forever!!!”

What does this have to do with weight loss?

In my example of losing weight at 13 years old, I had very important (to a 13 year-old boy) consequences staring me in the face every day — I wanted a girlfriend and to not be made fun of for being overweight.

As an adult, these consequences may not be as immediate or in-your-face from external sources. You probably have health insurance from your company. You probably have a car and a bed and a cell phone. You actually don’t need to be fit

Until you do.

The consequences of ignoring your health and well-being won’t be felt for 10, 20, or 30 years. If you’re experiencing a medical consequence due to poor nutrition and lack of movement, the preceding actions occurred decades ago.

2. They never say “I’m too busy.”

“I don’t have the time…” is an interesting thought. It’s one of the only objective measures that has vastly different feelings associated with it. I really started to notice this phenomenon at the gym. From students to surgeons, attorneys to bartenders — everyone is busy. But, objectively, are they all? That can’t be the case, can it? If one person starts their day at 4:30am and works until 6pm, they’re definitely busier than someone who works 8am-5pm aren’t they?

But the feelings are the same.

People who are successful at anything — not just weight loss — have a different feeling about time. They prioritize things that are important long-term despite how their schedule may feel. They know that they’ll never find time, so they prioritize time.

In the case of weight loss and fitness, prioritizing that time actually has a scientifically-proven benefit to your work and productivity. So you’re killing two birds with the same stone; by investing time you’re actually creating more of it.

3. They settle into discomfort

I’m not talking about SEAL training “Hell Week” discomfort here. It’s more of a low-grade doing the right thing when it doesn’t feel great discomfort. Things like:

  • Packing a lunch the night before
  • Getting a gym bag ready the night before
  • Working out early in the morning if your afternoon gets busy at work
  • Pushing yourself just a touch harder in your workouts

It’s nothing crazy, but it does require a crazy level of consistency. The average time it took all those people who lost over fifty pounds was nine months! These folks weren’t living in a monastery eating celery and drinking water. But they did all the small things to set themselves up for success.

It won’t feel pleasurable but it will feel good

The folks who make big transformations have — either consciously or subconsciously — settled into the idea that something doesn’t have to feel good in order for it to be rewarding. They’ve learned to separate pleasure from happiness. They don’t deprive themselves of pleasure because this is an amazing part of being human. They enjoy cupcakes because cupcakes are delicious and pleasurable, not because cupcakes are a way to feel happy. Lasting happiness comes from accomplishment. Think about all of your greatest accomplishments — they probably had more moments of discomfort than pleasure.