Iron Hammer Award: David Leadham

I am pleased to announce that David Leadham is being awarded the Iron Hammer Award of excellence!

Building The Foundation

David came to Northwest Forge over 8 months ago wanting to build quality strength and muscle size to pack on to his 6'5" frame.  With zero training experience, David had to learn all the lifts and exercises from scratch.  For over a month we built a solid foundation that we could utilize going forward.  

David went from benching the 45 pound bar to easily completing repetitions of 135 pounds!  (A 300 percent increase. No small feat)  Across the board, David's tenacity in sticking to the program (training, nutrition, rest, time) started taking him from skinny to strong and lean.   

The Secret to The Dip

Anyone that has trained at Northwest Forge (or on their own) for any significant amount of time has experienced "The Dip."  The Dip refers to the hard part that comes after starting something.  It only comes when it's something worth doing, and it is never unconquerable.  

Some clients get it in their head that the dip isn't a dip, it's a decline.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  It's called a dip and not a decline because it doesn't just get worse, it gets better after it gets worse.  A lot better.

David got to experience The Dip when he was about 3 months into his training.  He had been working hard and sticking to his nutrition most of the time.  The problem was that he didn't feel progress.  He felt only slightly stronger than when he started.  This can be a real problem.

The thing is, many newcomers to training experience this.  They unconsciously expect a flash change in the mirror.  The harsh reality is that change takes time and a commitment to consistency.  

The other thing we need to keep in mind is that we have a fixed visualization of ourselves.  We do not see the change that happens gradually, only the stark contrast when we look at old pictures of ourselves.  

So when David went from bench pressing the bar to completing repetitions of 135 pounds, he didn't see his increase in strength.  It sounds ridiculous, but we all do the exact same thing.  For David, it took a real mental shift to see the changes that were happening.  He had to shift his focus from the goal that he wanted (more muscles) to the system (show up, work hard, enjoy the process).   After that, things started to fall into place.

David stuck with it.  David didn't just overcome the dip.  He crushed it.  

He's now completing multiple sets and repetitions of 225 on squat, and is getting ready for his first Spartan Race.

The dip is common to us all.  The cool thing is, whoever sticks with it will overcome it.   That's how we build true strength.

More Than Strong Body: Strong Heart

Here's where David shines.

David pours himself into everything.  He puts his heart into every set and every rep.  

More than that, he looks for ways to help others.

David works with the mentally disabled by day, volunteers at his church throughout the week, and has helped Northwest Forge by volunteering to help move machines on a Saturday following bootcamp.  

David has a big heart.

The Glory

The next time you see a 6'5" guy at the Forge, give him a high five.  He's earned it in spades.

Congratulations to David Leadham on earning the Iron Hammer Award!

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Try

There's a big lie out there.

"Eat anything you want and lose 20 pounds in 20 days!"  We see similar claims like this everyday.  

It's such an attractive lie because it requires nothing from us, and promises that we get what we want.  Something for nothing.

The thing is, lasting change is difficult.  It requires something from us.  

Effort. 

We've been lied to so much that we start believing the foundation of the lie: the lie that we are not capable of being a badass.

I see this sometimes with clients.  It used to scare me, but now I see it as an opportunity to show them their own strength.

Client: "I don't think I can do that."

Me: "Try.  Keep your form and do your best."

The grand majority of the time, they complete the rep/set/session just fine.  They find that they were stronger than they believed.

We all are.  It's when we show up consistently and try our best that we amaze ourselves.

Try.  Give it all you got.  

Because you're stronger than you think.

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10 Ways to Make Food Work For You

It isn’t as simple as “tracking your macros”

Hi my name is Rachel Wood

I have a bachelor’s degree in nursing and worked as a bedside nurse for two years before realizing that it wasn’t the right line of work for me. Now, I work in a relaxing spa setting and take care of my husband and fur child, Teddy. This really doesn’t have a whole lot to do with nutrition right? Well here’s the thing: I’ve suffered with disordered eating in the past and anxiety related to food, exercise and body shame. If you know anyone that has dealt with disordered eating or been diagnosed with an eating disorder, they know A LOT about food. More than they should, in fact. This is from where my knowledge derives. I’ve done many different types of diets in the last 7 years, including “clean-eating”, low-carb, low fat, low calorie, reduced/no refined sugars, etc. Through the years I’ve read more articles than I can count, books, every food label I can get my hands on, and recipe/food blogs until I was blue in the face. I don’t proclaim myself to be a nutrition guru, and for concerns about your diet and health problems, definitely seek out a professional. But this is just my experience and I hope that some of these subjects will resonate with you to help decrease some confusion you may have.

First, I wanted to shed some light on my relationship with food over my life.

When I was a kid I ate whatever I wanted, as most people do. My parents were not restrictive or subscribers to the “clean your plate” club. But I really only got 1 fully nutritious meal a day that included vegetables and a protein of some kind. I had a carb heavy diet, but I was also very active. I ate lots of frozen burritos and drank soda everyday, pretty typical. In college my habits started to change. I stopped drinking soda and started making more conscious decisions because I was the only one looking out for my wellbeing nutritionally. Junior year in college, my sister told me all about this amazing diet called “clean eating”. Everyone touted it as “lifestyle” and basically labeled all foods as clean or dirty/bad. I did that for 4 brutal months, and gained 10 pounds, because I was eating 6x a day, per the recommendations of many fitness influencers. After I started living with my now husband, I had to learn to cook for two, and to keep the meals interesting. So I started learning from my grandma, calling my mom frequently to ask questions, and simply learning to be frugal with both our money and attempting to not waste food. We also joined a CSA one summer and that opened up pandora’s box. I was forced to make something with all these vegetables. When the disordered eating happened, it was originally based in vanity but then progressed to a place of self-righteousness. In my head, I was better than everyone else who ate frozen pizzas and drank 2 liters of soda everyday. Needless to say, that self-righteous attitude about food is very consuming and can mentally leave you in bad place.

Fast forward to now and things are much different. This is when the useful lessons come in.

1.      Learn to cook - this is the single most important thing you can ever do for yourself nutritionally. Aside from the nutritional benefits, it is a great way to unwind at the end of the day, a fun hobby or an easy way to bond and spend time with those you love. You don’t need to go to cooking school to learn to cook. Ask a family member, grandma, foodie friend, or actually try making something you see on a food blog or cooking show.

2.      Learn to work with what you’ve got- growing up, my mom was always the type to “throw something together”. When I got married, I discovered that my husband is the complete opposite. If he is going to cook, he needs a recipe, and he needs to follow it to the letter. While neither way is inherently better than the other, I would argue that learning to adapt existing recipes to what you’ve already got in your pantry or to your tastes is what is most sustainable. Also learning healthy substitutions can be a big helper. For example, I know many people will use mayonnaise when baking cakes to make the cake moist. If you can find a high quality mayonnaise without funky chemicals in it, GREAT! But mayo tends to be a highly processed food and there are better options out there, like a high quality greek yogurt, or no sugar added applesauce. Or if you want to stick with adding a fat, try adding avocado or organic coconut oil. Now, this is a very basic substitution, and I could go on all day about this particular topic, but I won’t. It’s just a lesson in being aware that there are a million options out there for healthier substitutions.

3.      Stick to the perimeter of the grocery store- when shopping at the grocery store, the vast majority of the food you are buying should be coming from the produce section, and a little from the fresh meat and dairy aisle if you aren’t vegetarian/vegan. Most of the stuff in the center aisles is highly processed food that you don’t need or could fairly easily make fresh yourself. Example: canned beans, a great product for convenience but have you ever read the label on a can of beans? Holy sodium!! You don’t need it. It is way cheaper to buy dry beans in the bulk section and soak them yourself. No added salt and you can batch cook them to have for an entire week. *One disclaimer I will make though, is that often times it is very helpful to buy frozen veggies. They are frozen when the vegetable is freshest and this can be significantly more cost effective. But always buy fresh, raw, organic when possible.

4.      Read ingredients labels- and I’m not talking about the calories, fat or sugar content on the labels. I’m talking about the actual ingredient list. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t know what it is, or it has artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, ditch it. You don’t need it. When you are eating whole foods that don’t have a label, the fat and calorie content are irrelevant because it would probably be pretty difficult for you to overeat on real, whole, plant based foods. *I would keep any eye on sugar content for certain items such as granola bars, sports/tea drinks, and cereals. They sneak in there when you least expect it.

5.       Don’t wait until you are completely RAVENOUS to eat. Conversely, don’t ignore fullness levels. Under eating or over eating is ok sometimes, but your body is pretty dang smart and knows what it needs. LISTEN TO IT!

6.      Diets don't work. I don’t care what diet it is: paleo, clean eating, whole 30, atkins, etc. Any diet that is restrictive or labels certain foods as “good” or “bad” will ultimately lead the individual attempting the diet down a path of failure. By nature, humans want the things we can’t have. The second we mentally label something as forbidden, we immediately want what ever it is. For me, it was poptarts. I used to LOVE poptarts, but hadn’t eaten them in years because I demonized them in my mind as a “bad” food. When I finally plucked up the courage to eat pop tarts, they weren’t nearly as good as I remembered. Foods that we never allow ourselves to eat, for whatever reason, inevitably get hyped up in our minds. Food should never hold that much power over us, and by allowing ourselves to eat the things we enjoy, it creates greater food freedom. My advice is: eat according to your cravings and ditch the diet!

7.      Shoot for plant-based and lean protein sources: try to eat things that actually come from the earth and try to keep your plate colorful. And when I say mostly plants, I definitely don’t mean only raw vegetables, which can be difficult to digest and cause gas if eaten in excess. Bake, cook or steam vegetables however you want. My personal favorite is roast a pan full of sweet potato, rutabegas and brussel sprouts in the oven. Toss them with some olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper before hand and they are an awesome addition to any meal.  Remember that if you struggle with intense sugar/salt cravings from eating lots of processed foods over the years, your taste buds will change over time. After a few weeks, the foods that initially tasted bland will begin to taste more flavorful. I used to drink Starbucks mocha’s when I was a teenager. But now that I haven’t had them in a few years, it tastes like a sugar bomb that I can’t quite stomach.  

8.      Learn to use spices: if you don’t have a well stocked spice rack, you are missing out! I always thought that the only thing that you could add food to give it flavor was salt and pepper. So not true! In the last two years I have started to have a love affair with curry, chili powder, cumin, turmeric and any other spices I can get my hands on. There are so many flavor options out there and using pre-made dressings or flavor packs isn’t always necessary. My go-to salt free taco seasoning combo includes: onion powder (not onion salt), a healthy amount of cumin, chipotle, chili powder or cayenne, and red pepper flakes (optional).

9.      Forget about the idea of “cheat days” or “cheat meals”. You don’t need to justify eating foods that you love. If you want to eat a cheeseburger, go for it! Remember, life is about balance and healthy eating is about sustainability for yourself.

10.  Eating is not meant to be purely functional. Humans have been using food as a vehicle to gather together and make connections for millennia. Food is meant to be enjoyed and experienced and is often what brings people together for shared experiences.

 

Some resources for inspiration and ideas:

 

Instagram accounts to follow for healthy/balanced food inspo:

I'd be more than happy to answer any questions in the comments below.  Thanks!

(Want to contribute to the NWF blog?  Go HERE)

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