Jersey Muscle Episode #5 and ‘A Letter to My Younger Self’

I hope you enjoy this personal letter.  Before you get to that, here is the link for Jersey Muscle Episode #5:


The young Newell Boys

The young Newell Boys

That’s me all the way on the left, with my 3 brothers. I have wanted to write a letter to my younger self for a long time. So after my therapist told me to do this exact thing in our last session, I paid attention and started thinking about what I would write. This is a great exercise to do yourself. With that, here is my letter to 5-year-old Kyle.

Dear Kyle,

I have a unique point of view that will help you very, very much. I am you in 28 years. The caring heart that you already have will continue to be one of your greatest strengths as you grow. Always treat others like you want to be treated (the Golden Rule), even strangers. And never forget that your brothers are your closest blood, talk to them weekly.

You will have to make some tough decisions in your future, I don’t want to tell you what specifically because that would be a disservice. But I can tell you, ALWAYS go with your gut. Some tough events will also unfold in your life, continue to carry the attitude forward that every situation can be looked at as good and you can always control your attitude.

You have a very focused mind already, just be sure to tame it from time to time. It can be your greatest ally and your greatest enemy. Strive to maintain a balanced life. And remember that the most important things in life are the simple things and the relationships you will form and nurture.

You will get knocked off your path every so often, distracted by things that shouldn’t matter and sometimes by losing sight of your mission and vision. Take time to re-evaluate your vision every few years. Live by that vision, it will drive everything you do.

You will always be a competitor at heart. Realize that it’s not about the end result, but rather it’s the journey. You will look back with fond memories on the hours and moments when you were going through the process, whether athletically, in your future profession or in your relationships. The journey will never really end, its like trying to find the end of the rainbow. If you can live your passion and be around people you love, you will have a great life.

Young Kyle, you will have many great mentors in your future, just pay attention to when they appear and cherish what they say and your time with them. And teaching is the best way to learn, remember that. You will become a voracious reader of books and even a decent writer, so pay attention in reading and writing class. You will tap into the written word as a way to help others, realize the power your words can have on someone.

Always maintain that sense of wonder and awe. Continue to believe that everything and anything is possible, even when other people tell you that you are crazy. Continue to believe in legends and myths; they are how we pass down our stories from generation to generation.

Finally, if you are going to laugh about something later, you mine as well laugh about it now. And forgiveness is key to enjoying your life. If you don’t’ forgive someone, it is really only hurting you because many times the person we hold a grudge against isn’t even thinking about it. Always think of ‘thank you for-giving me’ this opportunity to learn and grow from.

You have one shot at this thing called ‘life’, make it count.

Older You

There’s No Such Thing as Staying Put

My 'why', the reason I must continue forward momentum...

My ‘why’, the reason I must continue forward momentum…

While we were away with family last week in the Outer Banks, I had the chance to reflect on life and what direction Newell Strength is currently heading. Not surprisingly, it coincided and lent itself metaphorically to what I am doing with my personal approach to nutrition.

In terms of what we teach at Newell Strength for nutrition, if we were to break a day or a week down into snap shots of our food intake, we would see that we are either catabolic or anabolic at any given time. What this means is that we are in a state of breaking down (fat loss) or building (muscle and more likely fat). If you allow yourself to get to the point where intense hunger sets in, you can be sure that your body is tapping into its body fat stores. But then, what most people do, is they eat an unplanned meal to crush the hunger, often eating enough to offset the deficit that caused their hunger just a few hours earlier. This is the point at which we become anabolic. Remember, anabolic often makes people think of gaining muscle (think anabolic steroids), but more often than not, for most people, it means gaining body fat.

In the majority of the population, this one step forward (fat loss) and one step back (fat gain) approach will keep the person at a maintenance weight and they will usually find that they will not stray too far from this weight. Over the long term or big picture (all the snap shots added together), we maintain a stable balance of the ‘weight see-saw’. To actually lose body fat or gain significant muscle, we need a plan that will tilt that seesaw in favor of the direction of our main goal. If we are more catabolic than anabolic over the long term, we will achieve fat loss. It all comes down to having a plan, but just remember that you are never staying the same in individual moments, its either one or the other.

So let me explain how this works in a leading a successful life. You are either growing as a person or regressing. There is no such thing as staying put. You are either investing in yourself and doing the work that is hard to do or you aren’t investing in yourself and you are on the back slide. The back slide will creep up on you and it’s not something you will notice until it’s often already happened in a significant way. Think about it, you may often catch yourself thinking that you want a better life and you want to make a change for the better, but your actions may say otherwise. You are either choosing to pick up that inspirational book night after night or you are choosing to not pick it up. But either way, you are tilting the seesaw in one direction or the other. I used to tell my elementary school students that being average/mediocre was the worst thing in the world because it meant you were just like everyone else out there and you weren’t accessing your gifts. Being average is just code speak for not growing as an individual.

Now I know I like to use the example of reading, but it might be a few important contacts you have to make but you just never seem to send that email or pick up the phone. Whatever the case may be, your momentum is carrying you either further away from the life you deserve or closer to the life you deserve. And just like the backslide, success will meet you at uncommon hours and seemingly unexpected times. I remember the lesson that Dave Ramsey told one of his young staffers that their company landing spots on CNN and the Oprah Winfrey show in the same week was not ‘luck’ as the staffer had said. Rather, it was momentum, which is nothing more than the product of a focused intensity over a period of time multiplied by a higher power and faith in something bigger than our self.

Just like with diet, we need to apply our plan in life over a period of time with a focused intensity. It is always hardest to get the ball rolling but once its rolling its not so hard to continue on in that direction. Take that first step towards growing daily and remember that if you are going to invest in anything, it should be what you put in your body and what you educate yourself on because ultimately, that is who we become.

Also, I never put this up a few weeks ago, its our last episode of Jersey Muscle Radio with some tips you can use immediately in your next workout! Enjoy!

Jersey Muscle Radio Episode #3

Jersey Muscle Radio: Episode #2

3 Reasons Why a DIEt Won’t Work

At the peak of a cycle diet, with my lovely wife Devon

At the peak of a cycle diet, with my lovely wife Devon

I have said it before and I will say it again, I love nutrition and studying different methodologies and experimenting with it all. I am convinced that there is no such thing as a perfect diet, because if there were, there’d only be one!!!

I have been thinking a lot about dieting and what I was going to do after my contest as far as transitioning back to normal living. This is actually a very tricky thing to do because when you’re body fat gets to abnormally low levels, ~4% or so, it is in a very depleted state that means supercompensation can and will take place. If I am not careful, I can easily wind up 40 pounds heavier and heavier than I was before I started to diet down. I will not get too far into this topic in this article, but I will talk about some of it in our first of three reasons why a diet won’t work.

1. Your body is hell bent on survival. It doesn’t want to lose fat or gain muscle. It prefers easy and it prefers to conserve energy for things like the immune system, reproductive system and central nervous system. When you DIEt, within 3 days, even before you’ve lost any fat, your thyroid levels will begin to drop, IGF-1 levels will drop, testosterone levels will drop, sympathetic nervous system activity will drop, and leptin levels will drop to name a few of the adapations. This means that starvation diets and linear diets don’t and never will work in the long term. With this is mind, if you are dieting and not drinking enough water or sleeping enough, your body will just kind of slug along, not changing in composition much. Why, again, because it views dehydration and lack of sleep as stessors and threats that must be dealt with before it starts utilizing fat as a fuel source.

2. Linear deficit diets, meaning you are in a calorie deficit for the long term will lead to hunger. Now, don’t get me wrong, hunger is going to be present if you are trying to lose fat, and learning to deal with hunger is a skill in my opinion. You must view it as fat loss mode, reframe it if you will. But if hunger is chronic, you will binge unexpectedly. The way around this would be to have a chaotic diet or a cycle diet in which you have higher calorie days to reset the down regulations of all the systems and hormones. Hunger in the long term will always win out even over the most disciplined of dieters.

3. This last part is one that I’ve only seen one other coach talk about and that is my former coach, Scott Abel. He talks about it in terms of compassion for self. I want to talk about it in terms of the ID. Without getting too much into psychology, we have an ID, an Ego and a Super-ego. The ID is the part of us that wants pleasure. Dieting by its nature is self-depriving, more on the side of the super ego and the need to improve and the desire to want to fit the mold of ourselves that we think the world should see. We need to enjoy food, but we cannot binge or have an unhealthy attitude towards food. This is why I love cycle dieting! I get to have my cake and eat it too!

I will write a separate article by next week about cycle dieting and how it works. There are many different forms of cycle dieting and I utilized a high carb day in my bodybuilding prep, taking in anywhere from 1000-1300 grams of carbs in one day. During most of the rest of the week I was in a large deficit. It kept my metabolism humming along gave me something to look forward to and allowed me to keep my strength levels up. In the next article, I will talk about how to set your calorie levels, what needs to be done before starting or going on a cycle diet and how a cycle diet works.

Jersey Muscle Radio: Episode 1

Hey guys, today was the pilot episode of Chris Lopez and myself’s radio show. We plan on making this thing huge, so please like it, leave comments and let us know what you want to hear on the next episode. Thanks!

Nutritional Climax Part 1

Lean in close, I have a secret to tell you…..I actually am more interested in nutrition than I am in strength training. Yes, a little weird, but I can totally geek out on nutrition and even more so when I am in warrior mode and trying to get as lean as I am capable of getting. I can read stuff on fat cells, calories and more for hours on end, in fact, Devon usually has to summon me up to bed when I lose track of time in the subject.

Well, I am now 5 ½ weeks out from my show and I can say that I have never felt this energetic this far into a contest preparation. I am not having any cravings or fantasizing about what I am going to pig out on after the show. I also believe that the system I am it the process of developing can and will literally change the way people look at nutrition and I am sure it will attract many haters, but that’s another topic for an entirely different article.

My weight started at 242 when the contest prep began. I started ‘dieting’ at 16 weeks out (March 8th) for my June 28th show. My coach began by slicing some cals and increasing activity and it worked, a little; but 8 weeks in I was still sitting around 230 and frustrated out of my mind. I tried my best to be a compliant student and client but you have to remember that this is my field too and I am a total geek as I stated earlier. I know what has worked for me in the past and I know how my body and mind should feel at certain points throughout a cut down diet. However, in the past, I have suffered and starved and was never able to maintain an ideal weight and body fat for myself and I know that had to do with following traditional dietary practices, i.e-cut calories, lower carbs, a lot of small meals and so forth.

And add to that the fact that I have never been able to get those last few ounces of fat off in my stubborn areas, which for me, like 99% of men, is the lowest of the lower abs and the lower back. So, I used my Coaches plan to kind of coast through the first half of my prep period and in the back of my mind I knew I would go into full throttle mode. I did this so as not to burn out and because I wanted to prove my theories would work at the most extreme levels of dieting: a bodybuilding show.

So here it is and yes, I will expound on each in a separate article because as I sit here I realize that each deserves as much. But in the interest of you, I wanted to get you the framework. I diet in a big deficit 4.5 days out of the week. With this, I cut my calories to ½ of what my maintenance calories would be and I make sure carbs are less than 20% of my total calories. This essentially mimics fasting and inhibits the alpha adrenoreceptors that are located in those stubborn fat areas. For me, this means that Wednesday through Sunday afternoon is a big time cut down. Monday and Tuesday I eat slightly less than maintenance calories (2300 for myself), which would be enough to help me get respectably lean over a period of time and I up my carbs to about 300 grams per day. I diet in this fashion so as to send my thyroid, leptin, testosterone, GH and central nervous system the signal that I am not starving to death (the body’s main concern is always first and foremost: survival).
The increase in carbs help to accomplish this. What’s that you say? What about Sunday night? Well, I make sure my muscles are completely ringed out of glycogen (the storage form of carbs), which in and of itself is something most people would run the other way from. It is not comfortable and will only be a concern when you are below a certain body fat percent anyway (for men this would be about 10%). I then keep my fat intake for Sunday below 40 grams for the day and protein at about 200 grams per day. I dramatically increase carbs to 1200 grams from 4pm-10pm Sunday night. Last Sunday I had things like fat free fig newtons, pop tarts, fat free cheese and chicken pizza, pancakes to name a few. This is much different than bingeing or a cheat meal and I am in a supercompenstation state in which it is impossible for my body to store these carbs as fat, rather they are partitioned directly to the muscles. I will also explain this in a follow up article in addition to how I am now incorporating intermittent fasting with this plan.

What I explained in this first article was designed by Lyle McDonald and his UD 2.0 book. The stuff I will highlight about intermittent fasting is revolutionary while getting ready for a bodybuilding show and I want to pay it the respect it deserves with a full write up. It is my own twist to what Lyle has come up with and it will change the way the game is played. Remember, this is way more than most people will ever need to do and it won’t work unless you are at least below 15% as a male or 20% as a female. Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3. …



I recently started re-reading The Success Principles by Jack Canfield. It is a great book and one that was instrumental in my success philosophy. The book is a must read for everyone. While reading this morning, I had some truths hit me square in the head.


Napolean Hill said, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” I know that Arnold Schwarzenegger was also a big fan of this mindset and it was and is one of his guiding principles.   I too go through periods of self-doubt and thinking that I cannot achieve certain things or I sit back and wonder how I got to where I am sometimes.


And lately, I have been feeling that more simply because my energy is drained from getting ready for my bodybuilding show and my focus is understandably in that arena for the time being. I knew that I would have to try my best to balance Newell Strength and my relationships with getting ready for the show.


But I do know and you should know too that Newell Strength was born in my mind while getting ready for a show. You see, I got so focused on becoming the best bodybuilder that I could become that I developed a mindset that anything is possible. I got caught in momentum, which is an awesome thing. Remember the formula for momentum:




And it also important to note that other people are going to tell you that you are stupid, that it can’t be done and that you are wasting your. These are the Vampires that you must be aware of. They don’t have the mindset that they can accomplish anything and it comes across to others as bitterness. Any significant idea that has ever been thought of was ridiculed first. But the people that refused to hear the critics were and are the ones that change the world, both the outer world and their own inner world.


Just know that if you can have the thought, then that very thought is indeed possible. This is the idea of ‘open architecture’, which one of my mentors, Paul Reddick, commonly reminds us of in our mastermind group. It is the very concept that we can create our reality and future as we go along. We are not at the mercy of the drones and mediocrity mindset. The world would be much more competitive if everyone believed this concept to be true. Competition would be fierce and success would be much harder to come by.


But here is the catch: although you can achieve what you can conceive, it still takes persistence, sweat and hard work. And to most people, those mine as well be curse words. The very thought of being uncomfortable is enough to turn 99% back, never venturing into the greatness that could await them. This has nothing to do with luck or genetics; it has to do with a mindset; one that you can start cultivating this very moment. The choice is yours my friend, but when you come to a fork in the road, you better take it.



Too fat too move

Too fat too move

I have been fascinated with diet and nutrition ever since I took up lifting in high school. This was the start of Newell Strength in its infancy.  The crew I hung out with created our own little version of Muscle Beach. During the summer, we would plan our days around lifting, sometimes twice, with eating. Our whole purpose in life was to gain muscle and lose fat. We would love getting the stares, as we would take over a restaurant and eat to our content.

I managed to put on 30 pounds of muscle in that summer, still my biggest gain ever for that period of time, although I did manage to put on 14 pounds of muscle this year, not bad for an aging, bald guy. I use some of those same techniques by the way with the athletes that currently train at Newell Strength.  Sometimes effective strategies are always effective.

But fast-forward a few years and I had taken my eating expeditions a little too far and got all the way up to 260 plus pounds (I’ll find some of those pictures so you can have a good laugh). It was at this point that I really started studying nutrition and figuring out ways to eat for both performance and physique enhancement.

I even developed theories around calorie spiking, which I had been experimenting with for a year when I brought the idea to my nutrition professor. I was so excited, I set up an appointment with the professor and I was going to have all my questions and thoughts answered and validated. Alas, he had no clue about what I was talking about, never heard of ideas like that and basically dismissed my ideas about re-feeds and metabolism despite my year long study on myself.

There has since been much research out there done on calorie spiking, cheat meals, leptin and the effects of chronic dieting on metabolism and the damage that can be done, which is what I would really like to talk about in this piece.

Unfortunately, I know about a lot about calorie restrictive diets to a great degree because I dieted a little too extreme for many of my past bodybuilding shows, only to gain 35-40 pounds in the following 3-4 days after a show. No, that is not a misprint. And each year, I would have to diet a little harder to get lean. And when I was in the off-season, I wouldn’t be able to eat as much as a guy my size should be able to eat without getting fat. Devon often asks me why I am not leaner for the way I eat year round. And the answer is….I never took time to restore my metabolism. I will go into reverse dieting in a near future article as I am researching it, but there isn’t a lot of research out there.

But what I do know for sure is that all these ‘fad diets’ that are out there that many females seem to want to follow and post about on Facebook. Any diet that claims you can lose 10 pounds in 10 days or 7 pounds in 7 days or anything along those lines will have you bloated tick shortly after you finish the diet. Anything that promises extreme weight loss (note they rarely say fat loss) will down regulate things like leptin, thyroid, testosterone, IGF-1, sympathetic nervous system activity and the list goes on. And when you finish the ‘diet’ (I’ll be back to this in a minute), you go back to eating maintenance calories but somehow get fatter. Well, you did it to yourself.

If you shut them metabolic machinery down and essentially turn the setting on the thermostat down and then go back to trying to eat normal, all the extra will get stored as body fat and your metabolism will suffer each time you do this and most people never even know that it can be fixed. Secondly, a diet should not have an end point unless you are doing something extreme like a bodybuilding show. A great diet is functional and sustainable and fat loss and muscle gain will be a byproduct of the way you eat.

You didn’t get fat in 7 days or 21 days and you aren’t going to fix the issue in that amount of time. And the reason they don’t promise fat loss is because you are likely just flushing out water and losing muscle at a faster rate than you are losing fat, essentially making you a lighter, fatter YOU. The lack of diet expertise out there is astounding and the lack of information out there is equally appalling. The human body is meant to be lean and muscular, if its not, you are doing something wrong whether in diet, sleep, lifestyle etc. I’ll be back with more on reverse dieting in the near future.



Bodybuilding Prep Journal

Bodybuilding Prep Journal

I have been feeling great physically until late last week when I started to get that drained, weak feeling. I am 8 weeks into my contest prep and have been sticking to my plan like a champ. But when the mind starts coming into play and you start hearing that nagging voice that you aren’t going to be ready, that what you are doing isn’t working and all that good stuff, you need to get it under control and fast! Well, luckily, I was able to dig up the journal from my last bodybuilding contest in 2008 and the similarities were stunning. The mindset, the body weight, and even the calories. It helped to put my mind at ease and make me realize that I am on the right track. I had not been keeping a journal for this prep up until now but I have started one after looking through the old one.

I also swung my parents house and picked up some of Skip Lacour’s books that I last read while getting ready for my 2 shows in 2007.   I figured I had to change my mindset and develop or regain that positive mental attitude that has served me so well in the past. Getting back to the journal…The first thing I have new clients do is start keeping a nutrition journal. You cannot improve that which you do not measure. This goes for any area of life. In your journal, I would keep track of your eating, your training, and your goals for that phase (i.e-fat loss, strength, etc.) and your mental outlook. The mental outlook is something that most people wouldn’t think of but the part that helped me the most looking back through my old journal was the mindset stuff. When you are trying to make change, the mind is going to fight you and second-guess you.

It’s the two wolves story, one good one and one bad one, each on different shoulders. The wolf that will win is the one that you will feed. You might feel like you aren’t making any progress but when you look back month by month through your journal, you will be amazed at how much you have grown mentally and how far you have come physically. You cannot separate the two by the way. If you mindset is crap, you will get crap. The law of attraction is  always at work and it was interesting to note in my old journal that I said, “Very cool that every year, every contest, my body takes a huge step forward around week 6. That is always after about 10 weeks of intense focus and single-minded purpose. Its like there is a higher sense at work here, like the sixth sense.” I am convinced that you cannot attain your physical goals if you aren’t utterly focused on them. People talk about balance, and balance is good. But when you are trying to do something extreme such as get to a low, single digit body fat percentage, you are going to have to be all in physically and mentally and the sum will total higher than the two parts separately. Start journaling, start recording and do it in all areas of life.

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